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CHRIST 



AND HI3 



SALVATION: 



IN SERMONS VARIOUSLY RELATED THERETO. 



BY 



HORACE BUSHNELL. 




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NEW YORK: 

CHARLES SCRIBNER, 124 GRAND ST. 

1864. 



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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, by 

CHARLES SCRIBNER, 

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States 

for the Southern District of New York. 



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ITIRKOTYPKD BY R. H. I10BB9, 

Hartford, Conn. 



■ 



TO 

JOSEPH SAMPSON, Esq., 

OF NEW YORK. 

MY DEAR FRIEND: 

"When resigning my pastorship, five years ago, you will remember 
that you put it before me to consider myself engaged now in a "Minis- 
try at Large ;" serving in it, by the pen, or by whatever method, accord- 
ing to the ability left me, the cause we both have made our own. In 
this modified ministry, I have had the sense of a worthy and sacred 
charge upon me still as before, and in it, as I have occupied, I seem 
also to have prolonged, my life. This, with another volume, on The 
Vicarious Sacrifice, which is ready in due time to follow, are the 
principal fruit of my broken industry. "Without consent obtained, I 
venture to connect them with your name, as the spontaneous tribute of 
my true respect and strong personal friendship. 

HORACE BUSHNELL. 
Hartford, June 10, 1864. 



CONTENTS. 

i. 

CHRIST WAITING TO FIND ROOM. 

PAGE. 

Luke ii. 7 — "And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped 
him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because 
there was no room for them in the inn." 9 

II. 

THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 
Fs. xviii. 35. — " Thy gentleness hath made mo great." 28 

III. 

THE INSIGHT OF LOVE. 
Mark xiv. 8. — " She hath done what she could ; she is come afore- 
hand to anoint my body to the burying." ........ 61 

IV. 

SALVATION FOR THE LOST CONDITION. 
Matt, xviii. 11. — "For the Son of Man is come to save that which 
was lost." 71 

V. 

THE FASTING AND TEMPTATION OF JESUS. 
Matt. iv. 1, 2. — " Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wil- 
derness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted 
forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered." . 93 
1* 



VI CONTENTS. 

VI. 

CONVICTION OF SIN BY THE CROSS. 

PAGE. 

John xvi. 9, 11. — "Of sin, because they believe not on me. Of 
righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye see me no 
more. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." 116 

VII. 

CHRIST ASLEEP. 
Matt. viii. 24. — "And behold there arose a great tempest in the sea, 
insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves ; but he 
was asleep." 139 

VIII. 

CHRISTIAN ABILITY. 
James iii. 4. — "Behold also the ships, which though they be so 
great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about 
with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth." . 161 

IX. 

INTEGRITY AND GRACE. 
Ps. vii. 8. — "Judge me Lord according to my righteousness, and 

according to mine integrity that is in me." 180 

X. 

LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 
Mark ii. 19. — "As long as they have the bridegroom with them, 
they can not fast. But the days will come, when the bride- 
groom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast 
in those days." 201 

XI. 

CHRIST'S AGONY, OR MORAL SUFFERING. 
Luke xxii. 44. — "And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly, 
and his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down 
to the ground." 225 



CONTENTS. Vll 

XII. 

THE PHYSICAL SUFFERING, OR CROSS OF CHRIST. 

PAGE. 

Heb. ii. 10. — "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by 
whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make 
the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." . . 248 

XIII. 

SALVATION BY MAN. 
1 Cor. xv. 21. — "For since by man came death, by man came also 

the resurrection from the dead." 271 

XIV. 

THE BAD CONSCIOUSNESS TAKEN AWAY. 
Heb. x. 2. — "Because that the worshipers, once purged, should 

have had no more conscience of sins." 293 

XV. 

THE BAD MIND MAKES A BAD ELEMENT. 
John viii. 48. — "Then answered the Jews and said unto him — say 

we not well, that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?" , .312 

XVI. 

PRESENT RELATIONS OF CHRIST WITH HIS FOLLOWERS. 
John xiv. 28. — "Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away 

and come again unto you." 331 

XVII. 

THE WRATH OF THE LAMB. 
Rev. vi. 16, 17. — "And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on 
us and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the 
throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day 
of his wrath is come ; and who shall be able to stand ?" . . . 351 



Vlll CONTENTS. 

XVIII. 

CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 

PAGE. 

Eph. iv. 32. — "Forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sako 

hath forgiven you." 3*72 

XIX. 

CHRIST BEARING THE SINS OF TRANSGRESSORS. 
Heb. ix. 28. — "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." 393 

XX. 

THE PUTTING ON OF CHRIST. 
Rom. xiii. 14. — " But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ." . . _. .413 

XXI. 

HEAVEN OPENED. 
John i. 31. — "And he saith unto him — Verily, verily, I say unto 
you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God 
ascending and descending on the Son of Man." 434 



I. 

CHRIST WAITING TO FIND ROOM 



"And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped 
him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, be- 
cause there was no room for them in the inn." — Luke ii. 7. 

In the birth and birthplace of Jesus, there is some- 
thing beautifully correspondent with his personal for- 
tunes afterward, and also of the fortunes of his gospel, 
even down to our own age and time. He comes into 
the world, as it were to the taxing, and there is scant 
room for him even at that. 

A Eoman decree having been issued, requiring the 
people to repair to their native place to be registered 
for taxation, Joseph and Mary set off for Bethlehem. 
The khan or inn of the village is full, when they ar- 
rive, and, being humble persons, they are obliged to 
find a place in the stall or stable, where the holy child 
is born. It so happens, not by any slight of the 
guests, in which they mock the advent of the child, 
for he makes his advent only as the child of two very 
common people. But there is a great concourse and 
crowd — senators, it may be, landowners, merchants, 
money-changers, tradesmen, publicans, peddlers, men 
of all sorts — and the most forward, showiest, best 



10 CHRIST WAITING 

attended, boldest in airs of consequence, take up 'all the 
places, till in fact no place is left. What they have se- 
cured too it is their conceded right to keep. If the 
carpenter and his wife are in a plight, people as hum- 
ble as they can well enough take the stable, when 
there is nothing better to be had. 

So it was, and perhaps it was more fitting to be so ; 
for the great Messiah's errand allows no expectation of 
patronage, even for his infancy. He comes into the 
world and finds it preoccupied. A marvelous great 
world it is, and there is room in it for many things ; 
room for wealth, ambition, pride, show, pleasure; 
room for trade, societ}^, dissipation; room for powers, 
kingdoms, armies and their wars ; but for him there is 
the smallest room possible ; room in the stable but not 
in the inn. There he begins to breathe, and at that 
point introduces himself into his human life as a resi- 
dent of our world — the greatest and most blessed 
event, humble as the guise of it may be, that has ever 
transpired among mortals. If it be a wonder to men's 
eyes and ears, a wonder even to science itself, when the 
flaming air-stone pitches into our world, as a stranger 
newly arrived out of parts unknown in the sky, what 
shall we think of the more transcendent fact, that the 
Eternal Son of God is born into the world ; that pro- 
ceeding forth from the Father, not being of our system 
or sphere, not of the world, he has come as a Holy 
Thing into it — God manifest in the flesh, the Word 
made flesh, a new divine man, closeted in humanity, 
there to abide and work until he has restored the race 



TO FIND EOOM. 11 

itself to God ! Nor is this wonderful annunciation any 
the less welcome, or any the less worthy to, be cele- 
brated by the hallelujahs of angels and men, that the 
glorious visitant begins to breathe in a stall. Was 
there not a certain propriety in such a beginning, con- 
sidered as the first chapter and symbol of his whole his- 
tory, as the Saviour and Eedeemer of mankind ? 

But I am anticipating my subject, viz., the very im- 
pressive fact that Jesus could not find room in the world, 
and has never yet been able to find it. 

I do not understand, you will observe, that this par- 
ticular subject is formally stated or asserted in my text. 
I only conceive that the birth of Jesus most aptly in- 
troduces the whole subsequent history of his life, and 
that both his birth and life as aptly represent the spir- 
itual fortunes of his gospel as a great salvation for the 
world. And the reason why Jesus can not find room 
for his gospel is closely analogous to that which he en- 
countered in his birth ; viz., that men's hearts are pre- 
occupied. They do not care, in general, to put any in- 
dignity on Christ ; they would prefer not to do it ; but 
they are filled to the full with their own objects al- 
ready. It is now as then and then as now ; the selfish- 
ness and self-accommodation, the coarseness, the want 
of right sensibility, the crowding, eager state of men, in 
a world too small for their ambition — all these preoc- 
cupy the inn of their affections, leaving only the stable, 
or some by-place, in their hearts, as little worthy of his 
occupancy and the glorious errand on which he comes. 

See how it was with him in his life. Herod heard 



12 CHRIST WAITING 

the rumor that the Messiah, that is, the king, was born, 
and it being specially clear that there was no room for 
two kings in Galilee, raised a slaughter general among 
the children, that he might be sure of getting this par- 
ticular one out of the way. Twelve years later when 
Joseph and his mother turned back to seek the child at 
Jerusalem, where they had left him, and found him sit- 
ting with the doctors of the temple, asking them ques- 
tions and astonishing their comprehension by his an- 
swers ; when also his mother, remonstrating with him 
for remaining behind, hears him say that he "must be 
about his Father's business," and goes home pondering 
his strange answer in her heart ; how clear is it that 
they, none of them, have room, even if they would, to 
take in the conception of his divine childhood, or the 
history preparing in it. John the Baptist, again, even 
after he has testified in the Spirit on seeing him ap- 
proach — " Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away 
the sins of the world!" and has all but refused to bap- 
tize him because of his superior dignity, grows doubt- 
ful afterward, yields to misgivings, gets perplexed, 
like any poor half-seeing sinner, with his mystery, and 
finally sends to inquire whether he is really the Christ, or 
whether some other is still to be looked for ! His great 
ministry, wonderful in its dignity and power, wins but 
the scantiest hospitality ; he journeys on foot through 
many populous towns and by the gates of many pal- 
aces, sleeping in desert places of the mountains, as he 
slept his first night in a manger, not having where to 
lay his head. Nicodemus, and many others probably 



TO FIND ROOM. 13 

in the higher conditions of life, felt the sense of some 
mysterious dignity in him, and went, even by night, to 
receive lessons of spiritual instruction from him, yet 
never took him to his house, and too little conceived 
him to so much as break silence at his trial by a word 
of vindication. The learned rabbis could have bid 
him welcome, if he had come teaching "corban," or the 
precise mode or merit of baptizing cups, or tithing an- 
ise, but when he spoke to them of judgment and mercy 
and the right of doing good on Sundays, they had no 
room, in their little theologies, for such a kind of doc- 
trine. His own disciples got but the slenderest concep- 
tion of his person and mission from his very explicit 
teachings. They still wanted even the explanations of 
his parables explained. It was as if the sun had 
broken out upon a field of moles — there was a wonder- 
ful incapacity and weakness in all their apprehensions ; 
he shone too brightly and they could see only the less. 
The priests, and rabbis, and magistrates, saw enough 
in him to be afraid of him, or rather of his power over 
the people. They charged him, before Pilate, with a 
design to make himself king instead of Cgesar, and 
when he answered, in effect, that he came only to be 
king of the truth, Pilate, greatly mystified by his an- 
swer, and the more that he had the sense of some 
strange power in his person, wanted still, like a child, 
to know what he could mean by the truth ? On the 
whole it can not be said that Christ ever once found 
room, and a clear receptivity for his person, any where, 
during his mortal life. Mary and Martha did their 

2 



14 CHRIST WAITING 

best to entertain him and give him a complete hospital- 
ity, and yet their hospitality so little conceived him as 
to assume that being nicely lodged, and complimented 
with a delicate housewifery, was a matter of much more 
consequence than it was; even more, a great deal, 
than to fitly receive the heaven-full of honor and 
beauty brought into their house in his person. And so 
it may be truly said of him that he came unto his own, 
and his own received him not. He was never accepted 
as a guest of the world any more than on that first 
night in the inn. There was not room enough in the 
world's thought and feeling to hold him, or even to 
suffer so great a presence, and he was finally expelled 
by an ecclesiastical murder. 

At ,the descent of the Spirit there was certainly a 
great opening in the minds of his disciples concerning 
him, and there has been a slow, irregular, and difficult 
progress in the faith and perception of mankind since 
that day, but we shall greatly mistake, if we suppose 
that Christ has ever found room to spread himself at all 
in the world, as he had it in his heart to do, when he 
came into it, and will not fail to do, before his work is 
done. 

"Were a man to enter some great cathedral of the old 
continent, of which there are many hundreds, survey 
the vaulted arches and the golden tracery above, wan- 
der among the forests of pillars on which they rest, 
listen to the music of choirs and catch the softened 
light that streams through sainted forms and histories 
*)!! the windows, observe the company of priests, 



TO FIND ROOM. 15 

gorgeously arrayed, chanting, kneeling, crossing them- 
selves, and wheeling in long processions before the 
great altar loaded with gold and gems; were he to 
look into the long tiers of side chapels, each a gorgeous 
temple, with an altar of its own for its princely family, 
adorned with costliest mosaics, and surrounded, in the 
niches of the walls, with statues and monumental 
groups of dead ancestors in the highest forms of art, 
noting also the living princes at their worship there 
among their patriarchs and brothers in stone — spectator 
of a scene so imposing, what but this will his thought 
be : " surely the infant of the manger has at last found 
room, and come to be entertained among men with a 
magnificence worthy of his dignity." But if he looks 
again, and looks a little farther in — far enough in to 
see the miserable pride of self and power that lurks un- 
der this gorgeous show, the mean ideas of Christ, the 
superstitions held instead of him, the bigotry, the ha- 
tred of the poor, the dismal corruption of life — with 
how deep a sigh of disappointment will he confess: 
"alas, the manger was better and a more royal honor!" 
So if we speak of what is called Christendom, com- 
prising, as it does, all the most civilized and powerful 
nations of mankind, those most forward in learning, and 
science, and art, and commerce, it may well enough 
seem to us, when we fix the name Christendom — Christ- 
dominion — on these great powers of the earth, that 
Christ has certainly gotten room, so far, to enter and be 
glorified in human society. And it is a very great 
thing, doubtless, for Christ to be so far admitted to his 



16 CHRIST WAITING 

kingly honors — more, however, as a token of what will 
sometime appear, than as a measure of power already 
exerted. Still what multitudes of out-lying popula- 
tions are there that have never heard of him. And the 
states and populations that acknowledge him, — how 
unjust are their laws, how intriguing and dishonest 
their diplomacies, how cruel their wars, what oppres- 
sions do they put upon the weak, what persecutions 
raise against the good, what abuses and distortions of 
God's truth do they perpetrate, what idolatries and 
mummeries of superstition do they practice, and, to in- 
clude all in one general summation, how little of Christ, 
take them all together, appears to be really in them. 
Now and then a saint appears, a real Christly man, but 
the general mass are sharp for money and dull to 
Christ, and whether sharp or dull, are for the most part 
extremely ignorant as regards all spiritual knowledge, 
even if they happen, as men, to be specially intelligent, 
or practiced much in philosophy. The savor of Christ, 
in short, is so weak that we can scarcely get the sense 
of it once in a day. A wind blowing off from his cross 
might almost be expected to carry as much grace with 
it — so slight, evanescent, scarcely perceptible, doubt- 
fully real is the evidence shown of a genuine Christly 
power, even in just those upper tiers of humanity, 
which are called the Christendom, or Christ-dominion 
itself. 

But we must take a closer inspection, if we are to 
see how very little room Christ has yet been able to 
obtain, and how many things conspire to cramp the 



TO FIND KOOM. 17 

efficacy and narrow down the sway of his gospel. 
Great multitudes, it is well understood, utterly reject 
him, and stay fast in their sins. They have no time to 
be religious, or the sacrifices are too great. Some are 
too poor to have any heart left, and some are too rich — 
so rich, so filled up with goods, that a camel can as 
well get through a needle's eye, as Christ get into their 
love. Some are too much honored to receive him, and 
some too much want to be. Some are in their passions, 
some in their pleasures, some in their expectations. 
Some are too young and wait to give him only the dry 
remains of life, after the natural freshness is gone. 
Some are too old and are too much occupied with old 
recollections and stories of the past forever telling, to 
have any room longer for his reception. Some are too 
ignorant, and think they must learn a great deal before 
they can receive him. Others know too much, having 
stifled their capacity already in the dry-rot of books 
and opinions. The great world thus, under sin, even 
that part of it which is called Christian, is very much 
like the inn at Bethlehem, preoccupied, crowded full in 
every part, so that, as the mother of Jesus looked up 
wistfully to the guest-chambers that cold night, draw- 
ing her Holy Thing to her bosom, in like manner Jesus 
himself stands at the door of these multitudes, knock- 
ing vainly, till his head is filled with dew, and his 
locks are wet with the drops of the night. 

So it should be, as you will easily perceive before- 
hand; for Christianity comes into the world by suppo- 
sition, just because the world is not ready to receive it. 

2* 



18 CHRIST WAITING 

The very problem it proposes is to get room where 
there is none, to open a heart where there is no heart, 
to regenerate opposing dispositions, to sweeten soured 
affections, to beget love where there is selfishness, to 
institute peace in * the elemental war of the soul's dis- 
orders. This being true, we can see beforehand that the 
grand main difficulty of the gospel in restoring the 
world, is to get room enough opened for its mighty 
renovations to work. It will come to be received 
where there is no receptivity. Mankind will even 
seem to be shutting it away by a conspiracy of little- 
ness and preoccupied feeling, when formally preparing 
to receive it. 

"What shall Constantine, the first convert king do, for 
example, when he enters the fold, but bring in with 
him all his regal powers and prerogatives, and wield 
them for the furtherance of the new religion; never 
once imagining the fact that, in doing it, he was bring- 
ing church and gospel and every thing belonging to 
Christ, directly into the human keeping and the very 
nearly insulting patronage of the state. And sq the 
gospel is to be kept in state pupilage, in all the old- 
world kingdoms, clown to the present day — officered, 
endowed, regulated, by the state supremacy. Spiritual 
gifts have no place under the political regimen of course. 
Lay ministries are a disorder. No man comes to min- 
ister because he is called of God, or goes because he is 
sent of God, but he buys a living, or he has it given 
him, as he might in the army or the post-office. And 
so the grand, heaven-wide, gospel goes into quarantine, 



TO FIND ROOM. 19 

from age to age, getting no room to speak, or smite, or 
win, or save, beyond what worldly state-craft gives it. 
Call we this making room for the gospel? 

Church-craft meantime has been quite as narrow, 
quite as sore a limitation as state-craft. Thus instead 
of that grand, massive, practically educated, character, 
that Christ proposes to create in the open fields of duty, 
by sturdy encounter with wrong, by sacrifices of benefi- 
cence and the bloodier sacrifices of heroic testimony for 
the truth, it contrives a finer, saintlier, more superlative, 
virtue, to be trained in cells and nightly vigils ! — poor, 
unchristly, mean imposture, it turns out to be of course. 
To give the church the prestige of a monarchy, under 
one universal head, a primacy is finally created in the 
bishop of Eome, and now, behold the august father, 
•occupied, as in Christ's name, in blessing rosaries, pre- 
paring holy water, receiving the sacred puffs of censers, 
and submitting his feet to the devout kisses of his peo- 
ple ! how wretched and barren a thing, how very 
like to a poor mummery of imposture, have these eccle- 
siastics, contriving thus to add new ornaments and 
powers, reduced the gospel of heaven's love to men ! 

And the attempted work of science, calling itself 
theology, is scarcely more equal to its theme. The 
subject matter outreaches, how visibly, and dwarfs all 
• the little pomps of the supposed scientific endeavor. 
What can it do, when trying, in fact, to measure the 
sea with a spoon ! A great question it soon becomes, 
whether Christian forgiveness covers any but sins com- 
mitted before baptism ; as if the flow of Cod's great 



20 CHRIST WAITING . 

mercies in his Son could be stopped by the date of a 
baptism, and the sins of his children, afterward, left to 
be atoned by purgatorial fires ! The death of Christ is 
conceived and taught, for whole centuries, as being a 
ransom paid to the devil ; then, after so many centuries 
have worn the superstition fairly out, as an offering, or 
suffering, to appease the wrath of God. Meantime it is 
carefully held, to save God's dignity in him, that he 
does not suffer at all as divine, but is even impassible ; 
so that what he certainly suffers in his moral sensibili- 
ties, even because they are perfect — all to make the 
cross an expression of divine feeling powerful on the 
heart of sin — subsides into a stifled, unmoved, im- 
movable mercy that, in fact, belongs to the stones. It 
becomes a great article of opinion also, that God only 
wants to save a particular number, and that exactly 
is the number He predestinates. Next, to coincide 
with this, Christ is shown to have died only for this 
particular part of mankind. Next to coincide with 
this, a limited or special grace is affirmed under 
the same restrictions. Eegeneration, again, is wrought 
by baptism. Eepentance subsides into doing penance. 
And the forgiveness of sins becomes a priestly dispen- 
sation. 

But the most remarkable thing of all is that, when 
the old, niggard dogmas of a bigot age and habit give 
way, and emancipated souls begin to look for a new 
Christianity and a broader, worthier faith, just there 
every thing great in the gospel vanishes even more 
strangely than before. Faith becomes mere opinion, 



TO FIND ROOM. 21 

love a natural sentiment, piety itself a blossom on the 
wild stock of nature. Jesus, the Everlasting Word, 
dwindles to a mere man. The Holy Spirit is made to 
be very nearly identical with the laws of the soul. God 
himself too is, in fact, put under nature, shut in back of 
nature and required to stay there ; the incarnation, the 
miracles, the Grethsemane, the Calvary, all the flaming 
glories of the gospel are stifled as extravagances, and 
the new Christianity, the more liberal, more advanced, 
belief, turns out to be a discovery that we are living in 
nature, just as nature makes ns live. Salvation there 
is none, nothing is left for a gospel but development, 
with a little human help from the very excellent per- 
son, Jesus. 

Now the blessed Lord wants room, we all agree ; we 
even profess that we ourselves want mightily to be en- 
larged. Why then is it always turning out, hitherto, 
that when we try to go deepest, we drag every thing 
down with us ? What, in fact, do we prove but that, 
when we undertake to shape theologically the glorious 
mystery of salvation by Christ, we "just as much reduce 
it, or whittle it down, as human thought is narrower 
and tinier than the grand subject matter attempted. 

But saddest of all is the practical depreciation of 
Christ, or of what he will do as a Saviour, experiment- 
ally, from sin. The possibilities of liberty, assurance, 
a good conscience, a mind entered into rest, are, by one . 
means or another, let down, obscured, or quite taken 
away. To believe much is enthusiasm, to attempt 
much, fanaticism. The assumption is, that Christ will, 



22 CHRIST WAITING 

in fact, do only a little for us, just as there is only a lit- 
tle done ; when the very sufficient reason is, that there 
is only a little allowed to be done. As to any common 
footing with the ancient saints in their inspirations, 
guidances, and gifts — it is even a kind of presumption 
to think of it. They had their religion at first hand, 
we are now a degree farther off. They had the inbirth 
of Grod, and knew him by the immediate knowledge of 
the heart. We only read of him and know about him 
and operate our minds, alas I how feebly, toward him, 
under the notions, or notional truths, gotten hold of by 
our understanding. O it is a very sad picture ! Dear 
Lord Jesus can it never be that better room shall be 
given thee? 

True there is no grace of Christ that will suddenly 
make us perfect; but there is a grace that will take 
away all conscious sinning, as long as we sufficiently 
believe, raising us above the dominating power of sin 
into a state of divine consciousness, where we are new- 
charactered, as it were, continually, by the righteous- 
ness of God, spreading itself into and over and through 
the faith, by which we are trusted to his mercy. All 
this Christ will do. In this state of power and holy 
endowment, superior to sin, he can, he will establish 
every soul that makes room wide enough for him to 
enter and bestow his fullness. He will be a Saviour, 
in short, just as mighty and complete as we want him 
to be, just as meager and partial and doubtfully real as 
we require him to be. O what meaning is there, in 
this view, in the apostle's invocation — "That he would 



TO FIND ROOM. 23 

grant yon, according to the riches of his glory, to be 

strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner 
man ; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith ; 
that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be 
able to comprehend, with all saints, what is the length, 
and breadth, and depth, and height ; and to know the 
love of Christ that passeth knowledge, that ye might be 
filled with all the fullness of God." This heavy, long- 
drawn sigh, whose wording carries such a weight of 
promise still — what does it invoke but that Christ may 
somehow, any how, get fit room, as he never yet has 
done, in these stunted human hearts. 

And this same sigh has been how fit a prayer for all 
ages. Probably nothing comparatively of the power 
of Christ, as a gift to the world, has ever yet been seen 
or realized in it. And a main part of the difficulty is, 
that Christ is a grace too big for men's thoughts, and 
of course too big for their faith, — the Eternal Word of 
God robed in flesh, the humanly manifested love and 
feeling of God, a free justification for the greatest of 
sinners and for all sin, a power of victory in the soul 
that raises it above temptation, supports it in peace, 
and makes obedience itself its liberty. Such a Christ 
of salvation fully received, embraced in the plenitude 
of his gifts — what fires would he kindle, what tongues 
of eloquence loosen, what heroic witnessings inspire ! 
But, as yet, the disciples are commonly men of only a 
little faith, and it is with them according to their faith. 
They too often almost make a merit of having no 
merit, and think it even a part of Christian modesty to 



2-i CHRIST WAITING 

believe that Christ will do for them, only according to 
what they miss, or really do not undertake for them- 
selves. 

And so it comes to pass, my brethren, that, our gos- 
pel fails, hitherto, of all its due honors, because we so 
poorly represent the worth and largeness of it. What 
multitudes are there, under the name of disciples, who 
maintain a Christian figure scarcely up to the line of 
common respect — penurious, little, mean, sordid, foul 
in their imaginations, low-minded, coarse-minded every 
way. Until Christ gets room in the higher spaces of 
their feeling, and their consciousness gets ennobled by 
a worthier and fuller reception, it must be so. Others 
are inconstant, falling away so feebly as to put a weak 
look on the gospel itself; as if it were only able to 
kindle a flare in the passions, not to establish a durable 
character. This too must be so, till Christ is fully 
enough received to be the head of their new capacity 
and growth. Multitudes, again, are not made happy as 
they should be, wear a long-faced, weary, dissatisfied, 
legally constrained look, any thing but a look of cour- 
age and joy and blessed contentation. Yes, and for the 
simple reason that there is nothing so wretched, so very 
close to starvation, as a little, doubtfully received grace. 
True joy comes by hearts'-full and when there is room 
enough given for Christ to flood the feeling, the peace 
becomes a river — never till then. 

Discordant opinions and strifes of doctrines endlessly 
propagated are another scandal. And since heads are 



TO FIND EOOM. 25 

little and many, full of fractious and gaunt notions, all 
horning or hoofing each other, as hungry beasts in their 
stall, what wonder is it if they raise a clatter of much 
discord ? No, the true hospitality is that of the heart, 
and if only the grand heart-world of the race were set 
open to the full entertainment of Jesus, there would be 
what a chiming of peace and unity in the common love. 
Why, again, since Christianity undertakes to convert 
the world, does it seem to almost or quite fail in the 
slow progress it makes? Because, I answer, Christ 
gets no room, as yet, to work, and be the fire in men's 
hearts he is able to be. We undertake for him as by 
statecraft and churchcraft and priestcraft. We raise 
monasteries for him in one age, military crusades in 
another. Raymond Lull, representing a large class of 
teachers, undertook to make the gospel so logical that 
he could bring down all men of all nations, without a 
peradventure, before it. Some in our day are going to 
carry every thing by steam-ships and commerce ; some 
by science and the schooling of heathen children ; some 
by preaching agents adequately backed by missionary 
boards ; some by tracts and books. But the work, how- 
ever fitly ordered as respects the machinery, lingers, 
and will and must linger, till Christ gets room to be a 
more complete inspiration in his followers.- They give 
him the stable when they ought to be giving him the 
inn, put him in the lot of weakness, keep him back 
from his victories, shut him down under the world, 
making his gospel, thus, such a secondary, doubtfully 
real, affair, that it has to be always debating in the 

3 



26 CHEIST WAITING 

evidences, instead of being its own evidence, and 
marching forward in its own mighty power. 

But what most of all grieves me. in such a review, is, 
that Christ himself has so great wrong to endure, in 
the slowness and low faith of so many ages. Why, if I 
had a friend, who was always making me to appear 
weaker and meaner than I am, putting the flattest con- 
struction possible on my words and sayings, professing 
still, in his own low conduct, to represent my ideas and 
principles, protesting the great advantage he gets, from 
being much with me, in just those things where he is 
most utterly unlike me — I could not bear him even for 
one week, I should denounce him utterly, blowing all 
terms of connection with him. And yet Christ has a 
patience large enough to bear us still ; for he came to 
bear even our sin, and he will not start from his bur- 
den, even if he should not be soon through with it. 

All the sooner, brethren, ought we to come to the 
heart so long and patiently grieving for us. Is it not 
time, dear friends, that Christ our Master should begin 
to be fitly represented by his people — received in his 
true grandeur and fullness as the Lord of Life and Sav- 
iour of all mankind; able to save to the uttermost; a 
grace all victorious ; light, peace, liberty, and power ; 
wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. 
Be it yours then so to make room for him, even accord- 
ing to the greatness of his power — length, breadth, 
depth, height. Be no more straitened in your own 
bowels, stretch yourselves to, the measure of the stature 
of the fullness of Christ. Expect to be all that he will 



TO FIND ROOM. 27 

make you, and that you may be, open your whole 
heart to him broad as the sea. Give him all the widest 
spaces of your feeling — guest-chambers opened by your 
loving hospitality. Challenge for him his right to be 
now received by his disciples, as he never yet has been. 
Tell what changes and wondrous new creations will ap- 
pear, when he finally breaks full-orbed on human ex- 
perience — his true second coming in power and great 
glory. For this great consummation it is that every 
thing is preparing, and if there be voices and calls 
chiming through the spaces round us, which, for deaf- 
ness, we have all these ages failed to hear, what is their 
burden but this — Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and 
be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of 
Glory shall come in. 



II. 

THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 



"Thy gentleness hath made me great." — Ps. xviii. 35. 

Gentleness in a deity — what other religion ever 
took up such a thought? When the coarse mind of 
sin makes up gods and a religion by its own natural 
light, the gods, it will be seen, reveal both the coarse- 
ness and the sin together, as they properly should. 
They are made great as being great in force, and terri- 
ble in their resentments. They are mounted on tigers, 
hung about with snakes, cleave the sea with tridents, 
pound the sky with thunders, blow tempests out of 
their cheeks, send murrain upon the cattle, and pesti- 
lence on the cities and kingdoms of other gods — always 
raging in some lust or jealousy, or scaring the world 
by some vengeful portent. 

Just opposite to all these, the great God and creator 
of the world, the God of revelation, the God and Fa- 
ther of our Lord Jesus Christ, contrives to be a gentle 
being; even hiding his power, and withholding the 
stress of his will, that he may put confidence and cour- 
age in the feeling of his children. Let us not shrink 
then from this epithet of scripture,, as if it must imply 
some derogation from God's real greatness and maj- 



THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 29 

est j ; for we are much more likely to reach the impres- 
sion, before we have done, that precisely here do his 
greatness and majesty culminate. 

What then, first of all, do we mean by gentleness ? 
To call it sweetness of temper, kindness, patience, flexi- 
bility, indecisiveness, does not really distinguish it. 
"We shall best come at the true idea, if we ask what it 
means when applie'd to a course of treatment? When 
you speak, for example, of dealing gently with an en- 
emy, you mean that, instead of trying to force a point 
straight through with him, you will give him time, and 
ply him indirectly with such measures and modes of for- 
bearance as will put him on different thoughts, and 
finally turn him to a better mind. Here then is the 
true conception of God's gentleness. It lies in his con- 
senting to the use of indirection, as a way of gaining his 
adversaries. It means that he does not set himself, as 
a ruler, to drive his purpose straight through, but that, 
consciously wise and right, abiding in his purposes 
with majestic confidence, and expecting to reign with a 
finally established supremacy, he is only too great to 
fly at his adversary, and force him to the wall, if he 
does not instantly surrender; that, instead of coming 
down upon him thus, in a manner of direct onset, to 
carry his immediate submission by storm, he lays gentle 
seige to him, waiting for his willing assent and choice. 
He allows dissent for the present, defers to prejudice, 
watches for the cooling of passion, gives room and 
space for the weaknesses of our unreasonable and per- 
verse habit to play themselves out, and so by leading 

3* 



30 THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 

us round, through long courses of kind but faithful ex- 
ercise, he counts on bringing us out into the wa}-s of 
obedience and duty freely chosen. Force and crude 
absolutism are thus put by ; the irritations of a jealous 
littleness have no place; and the great God and Fa- 
ther, intent on making his children great, follows them 
and plies them with the gracious indirections of a faith- 
ful and patient love. 

It is scarcely necessary to add that there are many 
kinds of indirection, which are wide, as possible, of any 
character of gentleness. All policy, in the bad sense 
of the term, is indirection. A simply wise expedient 
has often this character. But the indirections of God 
are those of a ruler, perfectly secure and sovereign, and 
their object is, not to turn a point of interest for him- 
self, but simply to advance and make great the un- 
worthy and disobedient subjects of his goodness. 

This character of gentleness in God's treatment, you 
will thus perceive, is one of the greatest spiritual beauty 
and majesty, and one that ought to affect us most ten- 
derly in all our sentiments and choices. And that we 
may have it in its true estimation, observe, first of all, 
how far off it is from the practice and even capacity 
generall} r of mankind. We can do almost any thing- 
more easily than consent to use any sort of indirection, 
when we are resisted in the exercise of authority, or en- 
counter another at some point of violated right. 

There is a more frequent approach to gentleness, in 
the parental relation, than any where else among men. 



THE GEXTLEXESS OF GOD. 31 

And yet even here, how common is the weak display 
of a violent, autocratic, manner, in the name of author- 
ity and government. Seeing the child daring to resist 
his will, the parent is, how often, foolishly exasperated. 
With a flush of anger and a stern, hard voice, he raises 
the issue of peremptory obedience ; and when, either 
by force or without, he has carried his way, he proba- 
bly congratulates himself that he has been faithful 
enough to break his child's will. Whereas, raising an 
issue between his own passions and his child's mere 
fears, he is quite as "likely to have broken down his 
conscience as his will, unnerving all the forces of char- 
acter and capacities of great manhood in him for life. 
Alas how many parents, misnamed fathers and mothers, 
fancy, in this manner, that when self-respect is com- 
pletely demolished in their poor defenseless child, the 
family government is established. They fall into this 
barbarity, just because they have too little firmness to 
hold their ground in any way of indirection or gentle- 
ness. They are violent because they are weak, and 
then the conscious wron°; of their violence weakens 
them still farther, turning them, after the occasion is 
past, to such a misgiving, half apologizing manner, as 
just completes their weakness. 

It will also be observed, almost universally, among 
men, that where one comes to an issue of any kind 
with another, matters are pressed to a direct point- 
blank Yes or ISTo. If it is a case of personal wrong, or 
a quarrel of any kind, the parties face each other, pride 
against pride, passion against passion, and the hot en- 



32 THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 

deavor is to storm a way through to victory. There is 
no indirection used to soften the adversary, no waiting 
for time, nothing meets the feeling of the moment but 
to bring him down upon the issue, and floor him by a 
direct assault. To redress the injury by gentleness, to 
humble an adversary by his own reflections, and tame 
his will by the circuitous approach of forbearance and 
a siege of true suggestion — that is not the manner of 
men, but only of God. 

True gentleness, we thus perceive, is a character too 
great for any but the greatest and most divinely tem- 
pered souls. And yet how ready are many to infer 
that, since God is omnipotent, he must needs have it as 
a way of majesty, to carry all his points through to 
their issue by force, just as they would do themselves. 
What, in their view, is it for God to be omnipotent, but 
to drive his chariot where he will. Even Christian 
theologians, knowing that he has force enough to carry 
his points at will, make out pictures of his sovereignty, 
not seldom, that stamp it as a remorseless absolutism. 
They do not remember that it is man, he that has no 
force, who wants to carry every thing by force, and 
that Gocl is a being too great for this kind of infirmity ; 
that, having all power, he glories in the hiding of his 
power ; that holding the worlds in the hollow of his 
hand, and causing heaven's pillars to shake at his re- 
proof, He still counts it the only true gentleness for 
Him to bend, and wait, and reason with his adversary, 
and turn him round by His strong Providence, till he 
is gained to repentance and a volunteer obedience. 



THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 33 

But God maintains a government of law, it will be 
remembered, and enforces his law by just penalties, 
and what room is there for gentleness in a government 
of law ? All room, I answer ; for how shall he gain us 
to his law as good and right, if he does not give us 
time to make the discovery of what it is ? To receive 
law because we are crammed with it, is not to receive it 
as law, but only to receive it as force, and God would 
spurn that kind of obedience, even from the meanest of 
his subjects. He wants our intelligent, free choice, of 
duty — that we should have it in love, nay have it even 
in liberty. Doubtless it is true that he will finally pun- 
ish the incorrigible ; but He need not therefore, like some 
weak, mortal despot, hurry up his force, and drive 
straight in upon his mark. If he were consciously a 
little faint-hearted he would, but he is great enough in 
his firmness to be gentle and wait. 

But some evidence will be demanded that God pur- 
sues any such method of indirection, or of rectoral gen- 
tleness with us. See then, first of all, how openly he 
takes this altitude in the scriptures. 

When our first father breaks through law, by his 
act of sin, he does not strike him down by his thunders, 
but he holds them back, comes to him even with a 
word of promise, and sends him forth into the rough 
trials of a world unparadised by guilt, to work, and 
suffer, and learn, and, when he will, to turn and live. 
The ten brothers of Joseph are managed in the same 
way. When they could not speak peaceably to him, 



34 THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 

or even endure his presence in the family, God lets them 
sell him to the Egyptians, then sends them down to 
Egypt, by the instigations of famine, and passes them 
back and forth with supplies to their father, allowing 
them to feed even the life of their bodies out of Joseph's 
bounty, till finally, when he is revealed as their brother 
and their father's son, they are seen doing exactly what 
they had sworn in their wrath should never be done — 
bowing their sheaf to the sheaf of Joseph. Here too is 
the solution of that very strange chapter of history, the 
forty years' march in the wilderness. The people were 
a slave-born people, having all the vices, superstitions, 
and unmanly weaknesses, that belong to slavery. God 
will not settle his land with such, and no thunders or 
earthquakes of discipline can drive the inbred weak- 
ness suddenly out of them. So he takes the indirect 
method, puts them on a milling of time and trial, 
marches them round and round to ventilate their low 
passions, lets some die and others be born, till finally 
they become quite another people, and are fitted to in- 
augurate a new history. 

But I need not multiply these minor examples, when 
it is the very genius of Christianity itself to prevail 
with man, or bring him back to obedience and life by a 
course of loving indirection. What we call the gospel 
is only a translation, so to speak, of the gentleness of 
God — a matter in the world of fact, answering to a 
higher matter, antecedent, in the magnanimity of God. 
I do not say that this gospel is a mere effusion of divine 
sentiment apart from all counsel and government. It 



THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 35 

comes by counsel older than the world's foundations. 
The salvation it brings is a governmental salvation. 
It is, at once, the crown of God's purposes and of his 
governmental order. And the gentleness of God must 
institute this second chapter of gracious indirection, be- 
cause no scheme of rule could issue more directly in 
good without it. For it was impossible in the nature 
of things that mere law — precept driven home by the 
forces of penalty — should ever establish a really princi- 
pled obedience in us. How shall we gladly obey and 
serve in love, which is the only obedience having any 
true character, till we have had time to make some ex- 
periments, try some deviations, sting ourselves in some 
bitter pains of trials, and so come round into the law 
freely chosen, because we have found how good it is ; 
and, what is more than all, have seen how good God 
thinks it himself to be, from what is revealed in that 
wondrous indirection of grace, the incarnate life and 
cross of Jesus. Here the very plan is to carry the pre- 
cept of law by motives higher than force ; by feeling, 
and character, and sacrifice. We could not be driven 
out of sin by the direct thrust of omnipotence ; for to 
be thus driven out is to be in it still. But we could be 
overcome by the argument of the cross, and by voices 
that derive a quality from suffering and sorrow. And 
thus it is that we forsake our sins, at the call of Jesus 
and his cross, freely, embracing thus in trust, what in 
willfulness and ignorance we rejected. 

Nor does it vary at all our account of this gospel, 
that the Holy Spirit works concurrently in it, with 



36 THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 

Christ and his cross. For it is not true, as some Chris- 
tian teachers imagine, that the Holy Spirit works con- 
version by a direct, soul-renewing fiat or silent thunder- 
stroke of omnipotence. He too works by indirection, 
not by any short method of absolute will. Working 
efficiently and, in a certain sense, immediately in the man, 
or subject, he still circles round the will, doing it respect 
by laying no force upon it, and only raising appeals to 
it from what he puts in the mind, the conscience, the 
memory, the sense of want, the fears excited, the aspi- 
rations kindled. He moves upon it thus, by a siege, 
and not by a fiat, carries it finally by a process of cir- 
cumvallation, commonly much longer even than the 
ministry of Jesus. He begins with the child, opening 
his little nature to gleams of religious truth and feeling 
— at the family prayers, in his solitary hours and 
dreams, in the songs of praise that warble on the 
strings of his soul, and among the heavenly affinities of 
his religious nature. And thenceforward he goes with 
him, in all the future changes and unfoldings of his life, 
turning his thoughts, raising tender questions in him, 
working private bosom scenes in his feeling, forcing 
nothing, but pleading and insinuating every thing 
good; a better presence keeping him company, and 
preparing, by all modes of skill and holy inducement, 
to make him great. So that, if we could follow a soul 
onward in its life-history, we should see a Spirit-history 
running parallel with it. And when it is really born 
of God, it will be the result of what the Spirit has 
wrought, by a long, and various, and subtle, and 



THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 37 

beautiful process, too delicate for human thought to 
trace. • 

Holding this view of God's gentleness in the treat- 
ment of souls, and finding even the Christian gospel in 
it, we ought also to find that his whole management of 
us and the world corresponds. Is it so — is there such 
a correspondence? 

See, some will say, what terrible forces we have 
ravening and pouring inevitably on about us day and 
night — roaring seas, wild hurricanes, thunder-shocks 
that split the heavens, earthquakes splitting the very 
world's body itself, heat and cold, drought and deluge, 
pestilences and deaths in all forms. What is there to 
be seen but a terrible, inexorable going on, still on, 
everywhere. The fixed laws everywhere refuse to 
bend, hearing no prayers, the great worlds fly through 
heaven as if slung by the Almighty like the smooth 
stone of David, and the atoms rush together in their in- 
divertible affinities, like the simples of gunpowder 
touched by fire, refusing to consider any body. Where 
then is the gentleness of such a God as we have signal- 
ed to us, in these unpitying, inexorable, fated, powers 
of the world ? Is it such a God that moves by indirec- 
tion? Yes, and that all the more properly, just be- 
cause these signs of earth and heaven, these undiverted, 
undivertible, all-demolishing and terrible forces permit 
him to do it. He now can hide his omnipotence, for a 
time, just at the point where it touches us; he can set 
his will behind his love, for to-day and possibly to- 

4 



m THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 

morrow ; simply because he has these majestic inexora- 
bilities for the rear-guard of his mercies. For we can 
not despise him now, when he bends to us in favor, 
because it is the bending, we may see, of firmness. 
Able to use force, he can now use character, and time, 
and kindness. Eeal gentleness in Him, as in every 
other being, supposes counsel, order, end, and a de- 
terminate will. A weak man can be weak and that is 
all. Not even a weak woman can be properly called 
gentle. No woman will so much impress others by her 
gentleness, when she is gentle, as one that has great 
firmness and decision. And so it is the firm, great 
God, he that goes on so inflexibly in the laws, and the 
inexorable forces and causes of the creation — He it is 
that can, with so much better dignity, gentle himself to 
a child or a sinner. 

See then how it goes with us in God's management 
of our experience. Doing every thing to work on our 
feeling, temperament, thought, will, and so on our eter- 
nal character, He still does nothing by direct impul- 
sion. It is with us here, in every thing, as it was with 
Jonah when the Lord sent him to Nineveh. It was a 
good long* journey inland, but Jonah steers for Joppa, 
straight the other way, and there puts to sea, sailing off 
upon it, and then under it, and through the belly of 
hell, and comes to land nobody knows where. After 
much perambulation, he gets to Nineveh and gives his 
message doggedly, finally to be tamed by a turn of hot 
weather and the wilting of a gourd. Just so goes the 
course of a soul whom God is training for obedience 



THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 39 

and life. It may be the case of a young man, setting 
off willfully, with his face turned away from God. 
Whereupon God lets him please himself a little in 
his folly, and finally pitch himself into vice, there to 
learn, by the bitter woes of his thraldom, how much 
better God is to him than he is to himself, how much 
worthier of trust than he ever can be to himself. Or 
he takes, it may be, a longer course with him — gives 
him a turn of sickness, then of bankruptcy, then of de- 
sertion by friends, then of slander by enemies, taming 
thus his pride, sobering his feeling, making the world 
change color, but not yet gaining him to the better life. 
Then he fetches him out of his disasters by unexpected 
vindications and gifts of mercy, such as soften unwont- 
edly the pitch of his sensibilities. A faithful Christian 
wife, gilding his lot of adversity before, by her gentle 
cares, and quite as much, his recovery now, by the 
beautiful spirit she has formed in his and her children, 
by her faithful training — making them an honor to him 
as to herself — wins upon his willful habit, melts into 
his feeling, and operates a change in his temperament 
itself. Meantime his years will have been setting him 
on, by a silent drift, where his will would never carry 
him, and changing, in fact, the current of his inclina- 
tion itself. Till at length, dissatisfied with himself, as 
he is more softened to God, and more softened to God, 
as he is more diverted from the satisfaction he once had 
in himself, he turns, with deliberate consent, to the call 
of Jesus, and finds what seemed to be a yoke, to be 
easy as liberty itself. 



40 THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 

The change is great, nay almost total in his life, and 
yet it has been carried by a process of indirection so 
delicate, that he is scarcely sensible b}^ what steps and 
curiously turned methods of skill it has been brought 
to pass. And so God is managing every man, by a 
process and history of his own ; for he handles him as 
he does no other, adapting every turn to his want and 
to the points already gained, till finally he id caught by 
the gentle guile of God's mercies and drawn to the rock 
of salvation ; even as some heavy and strong fish, that 
has been played by the skillful angler, is drawn, at last, 
to land, by a delicate line, that would not even hold 
his weight. 

In a similar way God manages, not seldom, to gain 
back infidels and doubters. First he commonly makes 
them doubt their doubts. Their conceit he moderates, 
meantime, by the sobering effect of years and sorrow. 
By and by he sharpens their spiritual hunger, by the 
consciously felt emptiness of their life, and the large 
blank spaces of their creed. Then he opens some new 
vista into the bright field of truth, down which they 
never looked before, and the mole eyes of their skepti- 
cism are even dazed by the new discovered glory of 
God's light. 

Disciples who are lapsed into sin, and even into 
looseness of life, are recovered in the same way of indi- 
rection. God does not pelt them with storms, nor jerk 
them back into their place bf any violent seizure. He 
only leads them round by his strong-handed yet gentle 
tractions, till he has got them by, or out of, their fascina- 



THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 41 

tions, and winnowed the nonsense out of their fancy or 
feeling, by which they have been captivated. And so 
at length he gets their feet upon the rock again never 
to be moved. 

Indeed I may go farther. Even if you desire it, 
God will not thrust you on to higher attainments in re- 
ligion, by any forcible and direct method. He will 
only bring you oat into the rest you seek, just as soon 
as you are sufficiently untwisted, and cleared, and rec- 
tified, under his indirect methods, to be there. Com- 
monly your light will spring up in quarters where you 
look not for it, and even the very hidings and obscura- 
tions you suffer, will give you out some spark of light, 
as they leave you. The obstacles you conquer will 
turn out to be, in some sense, aids, the discouragements 
that tried you will open, when they part, as windows 
of hope. 

Having traced the manner and fact of God's conde- 
scension to these gentle methods, let us now pass on to 
another point where the subject properly culminates ; 
viz., to the end he has in view ; which is, to make us 
great. He may. have a different opinion of greatness 
from that which is commonly held by men — he cer- 
tainly has. And what is more, he has it because he 
has a much higher respect for the capabilities of our 
human nature, and much higher designs concerning it, 
than we have ourselves. We fall into a mistake here 
also, under what we suppose to be the Christian gospel 
itself; as if it were a plan to bring down, not the lofti- 

4* 



42 THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 

ness of our pride, and the willfulness of our rebellion, 
but the stature and majesty of our nature itself. Thus 
we speak of submitting, or losing our will, being made 
weak and poor, becoming little children, ceasing to* 
have any mind of our own, falling into nothingness and 
self-contempt before God. All which are well enough, 
as Christian modes of expression ; but we take them 
too literally. They are good as relating to our wrong 
will and wrong feeling, not as relating to our capacity 
of will and feeling itself. On the contrary, while God 
is ever engaged to bring down our loftiness in evil and 
perversity, he is just as constantly engaged to make us 
loftier and stronger in every thing desirable — in capac- 
ity, and power, and all personal majesty. We do not 
understand him, in fact, till we conceive it as a truth 
profoundly real and glorious, that he wants to make us 
great — great in will, great in the breadth and honest 
freedom of our intellect, great in courage, enthusiasm, 
self-respect, firmness, superiority to things and matters 
of condition ; great in sacrifice and beneficence ; great 
in sonship with Himself; great in being raised to such 
common counsel, and such intimate unity with him in 
his ends, that we do, in fact, reign with him. 

Take, for example, the first point named, the will; 
for this, it will be agreed, is the spinal column even of 
our personality. Here it is that we assert ourselves 
with such frightful audacity in our sin. Here is the 
tap-root of our obstinacy. Hence come all the woes 
and disorders of our fallen state. Is it then His point 
to crush our will, or reduce it in quantity? If that 



THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 43 

were all, lie could do it by a thought. No, that is not 
his way. His object is, on the contrary, to gain our 
will — gain it, that is, in such a manner as to save it, 
and make it finally a thousand fold stouter in good and 
sacrifice, than it has been, or could be, in wrong and 
evil. He will make it the chariot, as it were, of a great 
and mighty personality, inflexible, unsubduable, tre- 
mendous in good forever. 

So of the intellect. Blinded by sin, wedded to all 
misbelief and false seeing, he never requires us to put 
violence upon it, never to force an opinion or a faith, 
lest we break its integrity ; he only bids us set it for 
seeing, by a wholly right intent and a willingness even 
to die for the truth ; assured that, in this manner, Time, 
and Providence, and Cross, and Spirit, will bring it 
into the light, clearing, as in a glorious sun-rising, all 
the clouds that obscure it, and opening a full, broad 
heaven of day on its vision. Eecovered thus without 
being forced or violated, it feels itself to be a complete 
integer in power, as never before; and having con- 
quered such obstacles under God, by the simple hon- 
esty of its search, it- has a mighty appetite sharpened 
for the truth, and a glorious confidence raised, that time 
and a patient beholding will pierce all other clouds, 
and open a way for the light. 

And so it is that God manages to save all the attri- 
butes of force and magnanimity in us, while reducing 
us to love and obedience. Take such an example as 
Paul. Do we speak of will ? why he has the will-force 
of an empire in him. Of intelligence ? let it be enough 



44 THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 

that lie goes down into Arabia, and that in three years' 
time his mind has gone over all the course of Christian 
truth and doctrine, helped by no mortal, but only by 
God's converse with him, and his own free thought. 
Of courage, firmness, self-respect? what perils has he 
met, what stripes endured, and what offscouring of the 
world has he been taken for, unhumbled still, and erect 
in the consciousness of his glorious manhood in Christ 
— sorrowful yet always rejoicing, poor yet making 
many rich, having nothing yet possessing all things ; 
confounding Athens and Ephesus and the mob at Je- 
rusalem, out-pleading Tertullus the lawyer, convincing 
Felix and Agrippa, commanding in the shipwreck, 
winning disciples to the faith in the household of Caesar, 
and planting, in fact, all over Caesar's world-wide em- 
pire, the seeds of a loftier and stronger empire by which 
it is finally to be mastered. 

Such now are God's mighty ones — -humble it may be 
and poor, or if not such by social position, most effectu- 
ally humbled, some will think, by their faith, yet how 
gloriously exalted. God renounces all the point-blank 
methods of dealing, that he may give scope and verge 
to our liberty, and win us to some good and great feel- 
ing, in glorious affinity with his own. He wants us to 
be great enough in the stature of our opinions, princi- 
ples, courage and character, that he may enjoy us and 
be Himself enjoyable by us. Hence also it is that, 
when we are born of God, and the divine affinities of 
our great nature come into play unbroken, unimpaired, 
and even wondrously raised in volume, we, for the first 



THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 45 

time, make discovery of ourselves. Our heads touch, 
heaven, as it were, in the sense of our regenerated dig- 
nity, and joys like the ocean roll through our nature, 
that before could only catch some rill or trickling drop 
of good. And with it comes what strength, a mighty 
will, a sense of equilibrium recovered, an all appropri- 
ating faith, superiority to things, immovable repose. 

And now at the crowning of this great subject, what 
shall more impress us than the sublime and captivating 
figure God maintains for Himself and his government 
in it. Easy enough were it for him to lay his force 
upon us, and dash our obstinacy to the ground. He 
might not thrust us into love, he could not. into cour- 
age and confidence, but he might instantly crush out all 
willfulness in us forever. But he could not willingly 
reduce us, in this manner, to a weak and cringing sub- 
mission. He wants no slaves about his throne. If he 
could not raise us into liberty and make us great in 
duty, he would less respect both duty and Himself. 
He refuses therefore to subdue us unless by some such 
method that we may seem, in a certain other sense, to 
subdue ourselves. Most true it is that he carries a 
strong hand with us. He covers up no principle, tem- 
pers the exactness of no law. There is no connivance 
in his methods, no concealment of truths disagreeble 
and piercing, no proposition of compromise or halving, 
in a way of settlement. His Providence moves strong. 
His terrors flame out on the background of a wrathful 
sky. He thunders marvelously with his voice. And 



46 THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 

so his very gentleness stands glorious and strong and 
sovereignly majestic round us. Were he only soft or 
kind, bending like a willow. to our wicked state, there 
were little to move and affect us even in his goodness 
itself. But when we look on Him as the Almighty 
Rock, the immovable Governor and Keeper of the 
worlds, girding himself in all terrible majesty, when he 
must, to let us know that impunity in wrong is impossi- 
ble, then it is that we behold Him in the true meaning 
of his gentleness — how good ! how firm ! how adorably 
great ! Come nigh thou sinning, weary prodigal, and 
acknowledge and receive, in blissful welcome, the true 
greatness of thy God ! Be not jealous an}^ more that 
religion is going to depress your manly parts, or weaken 
the strength of your high aspirations. In your lowest 
humiliations and deepest repentances, you will be con- 
sciously raised and exalted. Every throb of heaven's 
life in your bosom will be only a throb of greatness. 
Every good affection, every holy action, into which 
5'our God may lead you, all your bosom struggles, your 
hungers and tears and prostrations, will be the travail- 
ing only of a princely birth, and a glorious sonship with 
God. 

Holding such a view too of God's ends and the care- 
ful indirections by which he pursues them, we can not 
fail to note the softened aspect given to what are often 
called the unaccountable severities of human experience. 
The woes of broken health and grim depression ; the 
pains, the unspeakable agonies by which human bodies 
are wrenched for whole years ; the wrongs of orphan- 



THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 47 

age; pestilence, fire, flood, tempest and famine — how 
can a good God launch his bolts on men, we ask, in se- 
verities like these? And the sufferers themselves 
sometimes wonder, even in their faith, how it is that 
if God is a Father, he can let fall on his children such 
hail-storms of inevitable, unmitigated disaster. No, 
suffering mortal ! a truce to all such complainings. 
These are only God's merciful indirections, fomentations 
of trouble and sorrow that he is applying, to soften the 
rugged and hard will in you. These pains are only 
switches to turn you off from the track of his coming 
retributions. If your great, proud nature could be won 
to the real greatness of character, by a tenderer treat- 
ment, do you not see, from all God's gentle methods of 
dealing with mankind, that he would gladly soften 
your troubles? And if diamonds are not polished by 
soap, or oil, or even by any other stone, but only by 
their own fine dust, why should you complain that God 
is tempering you to your good, only by such throes and 
lacerations and wastings of life, as are necessary? 

Again, to vary the strain of our thought, how 
strangely weak and low, is the perversity of many, 
when they require it of God to convert them by force, 
or drive them heavenward by storm. You demand, it 
may be, that God shall raise the dead before you, or 
that He shall speak to you in an audible voice from the 
sky, or that he shall regenerate your life by some stroke 
of omnipotence in your sleep — something you demand 
that shall astound jouy senses, or supersede your free- 
dom. You require it of God, in fact, that He shall 



48 THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 

manage you as he did Sennacherib, that He shall put 
his hook into your nose, and his bridle into your, lips, 
and lead you back, in that manner, out of sins you will 
not consentingly forsake. How preposterous and base 
to ask it thus of your Father, that He will storm you 
with his power and thrust you into goodness by his 
thunder-bolts! Instead of being jealous, with a much 
finer class of souls, that God and religion are going to 
reduce your level, you even require to be made little by 
Him, nay, to be unmade, and even thrust out of your 
personal manhood. How much better to give a ready 
welcome to what God is doing for you and in you, 
without force, doing in a way to save and even to com- 
plete your personal manhood. 

Last of all let us not omit, in such a subject as this, 
the due adjustment of our conceptions to that which is 
the true pitch and scale of our magnanimity and worth 
as Christian men. It is easy, at this point, to flaunt our 
notions of dignity, and go off, as it were^ in a gas of 
naturalism, prating of manliness, or manly character. 
And } r et there is such a thing to be thought of r revela- 
tion being judge, as being even great — great in some 
true scale of Christian greatness. A little, mean- 
minded, shuffling, cringing, timorous, selfish soul — 
would that many of our time could see how base the 
figure it makes under any Christian name. I will not 
undertake to say how little a man may be and be a 
Christian ; for there are some natures that are constitu- 
tionally mean, and it may be too much to expect that 
grace will ennoble them all through in a day. Judging 



THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 49 

them in all charity, it must none the less be our con- 
ception for ourselves, that God is calling us even to be 
great, great in courage and candor, steadfast in honor 
and truth, immovable in our promises, heroic in our 
sacrifices, right, and bold, and holy — men whom He is 
training, by His own great spirit, for a. world of great 
sentiment, and will, and might, and majesty. For when 
we conceive the meeting in that world, and being there 
compeers with such majestic souls as Moses, and Paul, 
and Luther, and Cromwell, nay with thrones and do- 
minions otherwise nameless, we do not seem, I confess, 
to be so much raised in the sense of our possible stature 
in good, as when we simply meditate God's gentle 
methods with us here, to raise our fallen manhood to its 
place ; his careful respect for our liberty, the hidings of 
His power, the detentions of his violated feeling, the 
sending of his Son, and his Son's great cross, the silent 
intercessions of his Spirit — all the changes through 
which he is leading us, all the careful trainings of care 
and culture by which he is bringing us back at last, 
stage by stage, to the final erectness and glory of a per- 
fect life. Even as when the mother eagle lifts her young 
upon the edge of her nest, holding them 'back that they 
may not topple off, and puts them fluttering there and 
waving their pinions that they may get strength to lift 
their bodies, and finally to scale the empyreal heights. 
And when we shall be able, ascending thus our state 
of glory, to look back and trace all this, in a clear and 
orderly review, what a wonderful and thrilling retro- 
spect 'will it be. 

5 



50 THE GENTLENESS OF GOD. 

Conscious there of powers not broken down or 
crushed into servility, but of wills invigorated rather by 
submission, with what sense of inborn dignity and 
strength shall we sing — Thy gentleness hath made us 
great. All the littleness of our sin is now quite gone. 
We are now complete men, such as God meant us to be ; 
— great in the stature of our opinions, great in our 
feelings, principles, energies of will and joy; greatest of 
all in our conscious affinity with God and the Lamb. 
Be it ours to live, then, with a sense of our high calling 
upon us, abiding in all the holy magnanimities of love, 
honor, sacrifice and truth; sincere, exact, faithful, 
bountiful and free ; showing thus to others and know- 
ing always in ourselves, that we do steadily aspire to 
just that height of good, into which our God himself 
has undertaken to exalt us. 



III. 

THE INSIGHT OF LOVE. 



" She hath done what she could; she is come aforehand 
to anoint my body to the burying" — Makk, xiv. 8. 

It takes a woman disciple after all to do any most 
beautiful thing; in certain respects too, or as far as love 
is wisdom, any wisest thing. Thus we have before us, 
here, a simple-hearted loving woman, who has had no 
subtle questions of criticism about matters of duty and 
right, but only loves her Lord's person with a love that 
is probably a kind of myste^ to herself, which love 
she wants somehow to express. She comes therefore 
with her box of ointment, having sold we know not 
what article, or portion of her property, to buy it, for 
it was very costly, and pours it on the Saviour's head — 
just here to encounter, for the first time, scruples, ques- 
tions, and rebuffs of argument. For though she is no 
casuist herself, no debater of cases of conscience, there 
are abundance of such among the Lord's male disciples 
present, Judas among them, and they have more rea- 
sons, a great many, to offer than she, poor child of love, 
has ever thought of. "Hold woman," they say, and 
particularly Judas in the representation of John, "Why 
this extravagance and foolish waste ? Is not the Lord 



52 THE INSIGHT OF LOYE. 

always teaching us to consider the poor, and do good in 
every thing, and what immense good might you have 
done, had you sold this ointment and put it to the uses 
of beneficence; why, the trains of benefit you might 
have set agoing by the money are even endless, and 
now it is thrown away for just nothing." She makes 
no answer, has nothing at all to say, and does not see, 
most likely, why she has not been as foolish as they think. 

But Christ answers for her. " No, children, no," he 
says, "do not trouble the woman, she has an oracle in 
her love wiser than yours that you have in your 
heads ; she has done a good work on me, fitting, alto- 
gether, to be done by her, if not by you. Nay, she 
has even prophesied here, taken hold practically, of my 
future — -just that which I have never been able to make 
you conceive, or guess. The poor you have always with 
you, be it yours to bless them, but me ye have not always. 
She is come aforehand — dear prophetic tribute! — to 
anoint my body for the burying. Is it nothing that 
I die in the fragrant odors of this dear woman's love? 
Yerily I say unto you, wheresoever this gospel shall be 
preached throughout the whole world, this also that this 
woman hath done, shall be told for a memorial of her." 

No such commendation was ever before or after con- 
ferred by the Saviour on any mortal of the race. He 
testified for the Gentile centurion, that he had found no 
such faith as his even in Israel. He tacitly commended 
his three favorite disciples, Peter, James and John, 
by the peculiar confidence into which he took them. 
But the little gospel, so to speak, of this loving woman's 



THE INSIGHT OF LOVE. 53 

devotion, he declares shall go forth with his, to be 
spoken of, and felt in its beauty, .and breathed in its 
fragrance, in all remotest regions of the world, and 
latest ages of time. 

And what is the lesson or true import of this so 
much commended example ? What but this ? — do for 
Christ just what is closest at hand, and be sure that you 
will so meet all his remotest, or most unknown times 
and occasions. Or, better still, follow without question 
the impulse of love to Christ's own person; for this 
when really full and sovereign, will put you along 
easily in a kind of infallible way, and make your con- 
duct chime, as it were, naturally with all God's future, 
even when that future is unknown ; untying the most 
difficult questions of casuistry without so much as a 
question raised. 

And precisely here, not elsewhere, is the great con- 
tribution Christ has made to morality, or the depart- 
ment of duty. He inaugurates, in fact, a new Christian 
morality, quite superior to the natural ethics of the 
world. Not a new morality as respects the body of 
rules, or code of preceptive obligations, though even 
here he instituted laws of conduct so important as to 
create a new era of advancement, but new in the sense 
that he raised his followers to a new point of insight, 
where the solutions of duty are easy, and the otherwise 
perplexed questions of casuistry are forever suspended ; 
even as this woman friend of Jesus saw more through 
her love, and struck into a finer coincidence with his 
sublime future, than all the male disciples around her 
5* 



54 THE INSIGHT OF LOYE 

had been able to do by the computations of reflective 
reason. Nay, if Judas who, according to John, was the 
more forward critic, had been writing just then a treat- 
ise on the economies of duty, her little treatise of unc- 
tion was better. 

But we shall not understand either her, or the sub- 
ject we are proposing to illustrate, if we do not — 

I. Bring into view the inherent difficulty that besets 
all questions of casuistry that rise under the laws, or 
precepts of natural morality. By casuistry we mean, 
as the word is commonly used by ethical writers, the 
settlement of cases, sometimes called cases of conscience. 
The rules or precepts of morality are easy for the most 
part, it is only their applications to particular cases that 
are difficult. And they are often so difficult as to 
cause the greatest perplexit}^ in the most conscientious 
and thoroughly Christian minds; as many of you will 
know perhaps from the struggles of your own moral 
experience. Beady to do any thing which duty re- 
quires, ready to fulfill any precept, or law, which is obli- 
gatory, you have yet been tormented often with doubts, 
it may be, regarding what this or that rule of duty re- 
quired of you, in the particular case which had then 
arrived. For the rules, or precepts of obligation, are 
all general or generic in their nature, while the cases are 
particular, and appear to even run into each other, by 
subtle gradations of color, so as to be separable by no 
distinct lines. Every case is peculiar, it is more, it is 
less, it is different — does the rule of duty apply? 



THE INSIGHT OF LOVE. 00 

Take for example, the statute "thou shalt not kill," 
either as a statute of the decalogue, or of natural mor- 
ality. Under this, as an accepted law, there will come 
up. in the application, questions like these — Whether 
one can rightly be a soldier for the defense of his coun- 
try ? Whether he can rightly execute a criminal under 
the sentence of death ? Whether it is murder to shoot 
a robber at one's bed-side in the night ? Whether one 
can rightly defend a poor fugitive, hunted by his mas- 
ter, by assailing the master's life ? Whether as a chris- 
tian he may rightly pursue the murderer of his child, 
and bring him to trial, under a charge that subjects him 
to capital punishment? Whether he may order a sur- 
gical operation done upon a child, wtych there is much 
reason to fear will only shorten life ? Whether he can 
run this or that considerable risk of his own life for 
purposes of gain, without incurring the guilt of suicide? 

The same is true of any other main precept of mor- 
ality or statute of the decalogue. Accepting the law 
general, endless questions arise regarding its particular 
applications, which it seems impossible to solve. 

Or we may take the great principle which requires 
doing good, the utmost good possible. And then the 
question will arise continually, in new forms endlessly 
varied, what is best to be done? And here we find 
ourselves thrown at every turn, upon a search that re- 
quires an immense fore-reaching, or impossible, knowl- 
edge of the future. What are God's plans in regard to 
the future ? shall we meet them and chime with them, 
by this course or by that ? 0]', if we only try to find 



56 THE INSIGHT OF LOVE. 

what will be most useful, we can see but an inch for- 
ward, and bow can we decide. Thus if the woman 
had been asking how she could use her box of oint- 
ment so as to do most good with it, she would either 
have fallen into utter doubt and perplexity, or else she 
would have taken up the same conclusion with Judas, 
and given it to the benefit of the poor. And so if 
you have on hand the question, whether, in the way 
of being useful in the highest possible degree, you will 
educate your son as a Christian minister ? there come 
.up immediately questions like these — Whether he will 
live to be of any service to the world? Whether he 
has talents to be useful ? Whether he will maintain a 
character to be useful ? Whether even God will make 
him eloquent, or keep him grounded thoroughly in the 
truth? A thousand unknown matters regarding his 
future, baffle you in coming to auy intelligent solution 
of your duty. Any sort of business you propose to 
undertake as a way of usefulness, depends in the same 
way on a thousand unknown contingencies — the prob- 
able characters of partners and customers, the winds, 
wars, fires, seasons, markets of the years to come. In 
this measure you are brought up shortly, under the 
questions of duty, b}' the discovery that you can see 
but a little way, what ever you propose, and that all 
your computations of usefulness or means of usefulness 
to be obtained, are too short in the run to allow the 
satisfactory settlement of any thing. 

These difficulties, it is true may be exaggerated. 
Some men never have a trouble about duty in their 



THE INSIGHT OF LOVE. 57 

lives, just because they have practically no conscience 
about it. Really conscientious persons, too, settle most 
of their questions as they rise, without debate. It is here 
exactly as it is in the law ; for what is called the common 
law is a product of pure moral casuistry from beginning 
to end — ten thousand obligations are discharged with- 
out litigation to one that is settled by it, and yet the 
few to be thus settled are how many and troublesome. 
The reported volumes multiply till no one can read 
them, and yet the new cases come ; the work is never 
done — never in fact to be done. Just so it is with our 
troubles of casuistry. The really conscientious man 
will be continually graveled by some question he can 
not solve by his reason, and one such question is 
enough to break his peace. However perfect and sim- 
ple the code of preceptive duty, the applications of it 
will often be difficult, and sometimes well nigh impos- 
sible, without some better help than casuistry, which 
better help I now proceed, 

II. To show is contributed by Christ and his gospel. 
By him is added to the code of duty, what could, by no 
possibility be located in it, a power to settle right applica- 
tions to all particular cases, without casuistry, or any such 
debate of reasons, as allows even a chance of perplexity. 

Thus, begetting in the soul a new personal love to 
himself, practically supreme, Christ establishes in it all 
law, and makes it gravitate, by its own sacred motion, 
toward all that is right and good in all particular cases. 
This love will find all good by its own pure affin- 



58 THE INSIGHT OF LOVE. 

ity, apart from any mere debate of reasons; even as 
a magnet finds all specks of iron hidden in the com- 
mon dust. Thus if the race were standing fast in love, 
perfect love, that love would be the fulfilling of the 
law without the law, determiniDg itself ri gritty by its 
own blessed motions, without any statutory control what- 
ever. It is only under sin, where the love is gone out 
as a principle, that we get up rules, work out adjudica- 
tions, creep along toilsomely into moral customs and 
codes, contriving in that manner to fence about life 
and make society endurable. These are laws that God 
enacts for the lawless and disobedient; or which they, 
under Grod, elaborate for their own protection. But 
who will go to love and say, thou shalt not steal, or 
kill, or lie — does not love know that beforehand? 
These decalogue statutes — love wants none of them, 
she fulfills them before they are given. She can shape 
a life more beautifully by her own divine impulse, than 
it could be done by any and all ethical statutes, or 
refinements under them. And accordingly when 
Christ restores this love in a soul, it will be a new inspi- 
ration of duty, just according to its degree of power. 
In so far as the love is weak, or incomplete, the fences 
of precept and rule will be wanted. But the new 
affinity it creates, ought to be so clear as to make all 
questions of duty more and more easy, till finally the 
sense of all such rules is nearly or quite gone bv, leav- 
ing only the love to be its own interpreter and light 
of guidance. 

Again it is a further consideration, drawing toward 



THE INSIGHT OF LOVE. 59 

the same conclusion, that Christ incarnates a perfect and 
complete morality in his own person, so that when the 
soul in its new love embraces his person, it embraces, 
or takes into its own affinities, a complete morality. 
Consider who Christ is ; the eternal Word of God for 
whom, and by whom, all the worlds were made ; in whom 
as being in the form of God, all God's ends, creations, 
principles, counsels, providences, and future ongoings, 
are in a sense contained and totalized. Whoever loves 
him, therefore, loves in fact, all that he is in his perfec- 
tion, and all that he means in the world, all that he is 
doing and going to do in it ; and so loving him, all 
the currents of his soul run out with his, to meet as by 
a true inspiration, all his deepest purposes and most 
future and remotest appointments. He is in a state of 
mind that cleaves instinctively, and by hidden sympa- 
thies, to all that is in the Lord's person. Where the 
reasons of the understanding are short of reach, and 
ethical solutions of all kinds doubtful, he is drawn by 
the indivertible affinities of his heart, into easy coinci- 
dence with all that Christ means for him, and so into a 
certain divine morality. He is not a philosopher, not 
wise, as we commonly speak, and yet Christ, who is 
being formed in him, is made unto him wisdom. As 
the worlds are fashioned to serve His plans, and work 
out, in the sublime progression of ages, all His counsels 
of good, he falls into that same progression to roll on 
with it, not knowing whither, and how, and why, by 
any wisdom of the head, yet chiming faithfully with all 
that Christ is doing, or wants to be done. 



60 THE INSIGHT OF LOVE. 

At the risk now of a little repetition, let us recur a 
moment to the singularly beautiful example of the 
woman, whose conduct gives us our subject, and see 
how completely these suggestions are verified. The 
wise male brethren who stood critics round her, had all 
the casuistic, humanly assignable, reasons plainly enough 
with them. And yet the wisdom is hers without any 
reasons. She reaches further, touches the proprieties 
more fitly, chimes with God's future more exactly, than 
they do, reasoning the question as they best can. It is 
as if she were somehow polarized in her love by a new 
divine force, and she settles into coincidence with Christ 
and his future, just as the needle settles to its point 
without knowing why. She does not love him on 
debate, or serve him by contrived reasons, but she is so 
drunk up in his person, so totally captivated hj the 
wondrous something felt in him, that she has and can 
have no thought other than to love him, and do every 
thing out of her love. To bathe his blessed head with 
what most precious ointment she can get, and bending 
low to put her fragrant homage on his feet, and wind 
them about in the honors of her hair, is all that she 
thinks of, and be it wise or unwise, it is done. Where- 
upon it turns out that she has met her Lord's future, as 
no other one of his disciples had been able ; anointed 
his brow for the thorns, his feet for the nails, that both 
thorns and nails may draw blood in the perfume of at 
least one human creature's love. And this she has 
done, you perceive, because her life is wholly in 
Christ's element; tempered to him more fitly and 



THE INSIGHT OF LOVE. 61 

totally than it could be by her understanding. By a 
certain delicate affinity of feeling that was equal to 
insight, and almost to prophecy, she touches exactly 
her Lord's strange, unknown future, and anoints him 
for the kingdom and the death she does not even think 
of, or know. Plainly enough no debate of consequences 
could ever have prepared her for these deep and beauti- 
fully wise proprieties. 

Now in just this manner it is, that Christianity comes 
to our help, in all the most difficult, most insoluble 
questions of duty, those I mean which turn upon a 
computation of consequences. To compute such con- 
sequences, we need to know, in fact, a thousand things 
that belong to the future, and we know 7 scarcely one 
of them — on what particular ends God is moving, by 
what means he will reach them, what effects will follow, 
or not follow, a supposed act of usefulness, what trains 
of causes will be put agoing, what trains checked and 
baffled. Here it is that our casuistry breaks down con- 
tinually. At this point, all merely preceptive codes 
are inherently weak and well nigh impracticable. They 
command us to good, or beneficence, and leave us to 
utter perplexity in all computations of consequences 
that reach far enough to settle the real import or effect 
of any thing. Nothing plainly but some inspiration, 
or some new impulsion of love, such as puts the soul 
at one with all Grod's character and future, as when it 
embraces Christ and a completely incarnated morality 
in his person, can possibly settle our applications of 
duty and give us confidence in them. Just what 



62 THE INSIGHT OF LOVE. 

helped the woman to come aforehand in the anointing 
of the Lord's body, is wanted by us all, at every turn 
of life. 

And this I will now add, as a last consideration, is 
what every Christian has found many times, if not 
always, in his own experience. Thus, in some trying 
condition, where he has not been able, by the under- 
standing, to settle any wise course of proceeding, how 
very clear has everything been made to him, step by 
step, by the simple and consciously single-eyed impulse 
of love to his Master. And when all is over, when his 
crisis is past, his course fought out, his adversaries con- 
founded, his cause completely justified, his sacrifice 
crowned, how plain is it to him that he has been guided 
by a wisdom in his loving affinities, which he had not 
in the reasons of his understanding; all in a way so 
easy as even to be an astonishment to himself. Not to 
say this, my brethren, out of my own experience 
would be to withhold a good confession that is due. 
And I can not persuade myself that any thoroughly 
Christian person is ignorant of the experience I de- 
scribe. All our best determinations of duty are those 
which come upon us in the immediate light of our im- 
mediate union to Christ. 

I ought, perhaps, to add that the doctrine I am wish- 
ing to unfold, does not exclude the use of the under- 
standing. It is one thing to use the understanding 
under love, as being liquified and molded by it, and 
quite another to make it the oracle or sole arbiter 
of duty. Christ himself gives precepts to the under- 



THE INSIGHT OF LOVE. 63 

standing, just because we are not perfected in love, and 
require, meantime, to have the school-master's keeping, 
under a preceptive and statutory control. Nothing was 
further off from God's design than to add so many pre- 
ceptive regulations by Christ and the apostles, to help 
out the natural code of morality, and be applied as that 
code is, and with it, by natural reason. He gives them 
only because we are not ripe enough in the good im- 
pulse of love to be kept right by that alone. We 
might take our passions for love, and become fanatics 
and fire-brands of duty. The false heats of our indig- 
nations against wrong, too little qualified by love, 
might fill us with personal animosities. Our lusts 
might steal the name of love and fool us by the coun- 
terfeit. Therefore he puts dry precepts in the under- 
standing for a time, where, if they are legal and precis- 
ional in their way, the fogs of distemper and passion 
will be just as much less able to reach them. 

Let me add now, a few distinct suggestions that 
crowd upon us, naturally in the closing of such a sub- 
ject. And — . 

1. The great debate which has been going on for 
some time past, with our modern infidelity, is seen to 
be joined upon a superficial and false issue. The su- 
perior preceptive morality of the Gospel of Christ, 
which used to be conceded, is now denied, and the 
learned champions of denial undertake to refute our 
claim, by citing from the explored literature of the 
ancient Pagan writers, every particular maxim, or pre- 



64 THE INSIGHT OF LOVE. 

cept that we most value, or suppose to be most original, 
in the teachings of Christ. Which if they can do, as 
they certainly can not, their argument is only a very 
transparent sophistry. For, when they have hunted all 
treasures of learning through, picking up here one thing 
and here another, to match the teachings of Christ, and 
claim as the result, that they have matched every thing, 
their conclusions amounts to simply this, not that Christ 
is the equal of some man, but that he is just as compe- 
tently wise as all men taken together. Besides they 
make him none the less original ; for no one can pre- 
tend that Christ obtained, or raked together so many 
precepts, by any such hunt of learned exploration as is 
here resorted to; he must have given them out of his 
own creative intelligence. And then again, what sig- 
nifies a great deal more, it is not here after all, that 
he made his grand contribution to the life of duty. 
The issue tried is wholly one side of his chief merit ; 
viz., that he brings relief and clearness where all the 
natural codes of duty break down. These codes are 
grounded in natural reason, by that -also to be ap- 
plied. The chief maxims may be right, but the ap- 
plications are still to be settled as no mortal man can 
settle them — by analogies, by subtle distinctions, drawn 
w T here there are no definite lines of distinction; by 
computations of usefulness depending on a knowledge 
of the future that is impossible. Every maxim wants 
a volume of casuistry to settle its application to this or 
that case in practice ; and then new cases, equally diffi- 
cult, will be rising still — even as they do at common 



THE INSIGHT OF LOVE. 65 

law, which, covers only a very small corner of the gen- 
eral field of duty. Baxter wrote an immense folio on 
cases of conscience, thinking, I suppose, that he had 
made every thing clear to the end of the world ; when 
in fact he had started more questions in doing it than 
twenty folios could settle. Handled in this way, the 
law of duty runs to endless refinements ; and as men 
are corrupt, to endless sophistries and abortions ; yield- 
ing codes in fact, that are codes of immorality, framing 
mischief by a law ; codes of Jesuitry, codes of hideous 
and disgusting practice, such as heathen peoples propa- 
gate with endless perversity. How much then does it 
mean that Christ has a perfect morality incarnated in 
his person — all beauty, truth; mercy, greatness, wise 
counsel of life ; so that when he is embraced, all casu- 
istries are well nigh superseded, and the humblest, most 
unreasoning disciple, is able by a course of applications, 
wiser than he knows himself, to fill up a beautiful life, 
meet, with a glorious consent of practice, all the grand- 
est meanings, and remotest future workings of God. 
The life of duty passes in a clear element, tossed by no 
perplexities, happy and sweet and strong, because the 
soul in Christ's love has a light of immediate guidance. 
In presence of this manifestly divine fact, how weak 
and sorry is the attempt to break down Christ's sublime 
superhuman evidences, by showing that his contribu- 
tions to the mere preceptive code of duty, have been 
more or less nearly anticipated. 

2. All conscientious Christian persons who get con- 
fused and fall into painful debates of duty in particular 



bb THE INSIGHT OF LOVE. 

cases, may here discover the secret of their trouble and 
the way to have it relieved. Their difficulty is that 
thej fall back on the modes of casuistry, and attempt 
to settle their question of duty, as Jesuits or heathens 
do, by computations of reason. Shall I do this ? shall 
I do that ? shall I give myself, or my son, or my hus- 
band to the army of my country ? keeping one day 
in seven, how shall I keep it ? training up my child for 
God, what indulgences shall I give, what pleasures 
shall I allow? having adversaries, shall I be silent? 
willing to make every thing a sacrifice for God, shall I 
give or not give all my time and talent to the imme- 
diate duties of religion ? — ten thousand such questions 
are rising every hour, this with one person, this with 
another. The debate is begun and kept up day and 
night, till the soul is weary. The darkness increases, 
the confusion grows painful, the longer and more critical 
the debate is, till finally the soul, thrown back upon 
itself, sinks into a kind of nervous dread, close akin to 
horror. How many such cases have I met, in past 
years, and they are among the saddest to which I have 
been called to minister. The question of duty was turned 
round and round, till the multitude of reasons made 
distraction. It was even as if duty were the only thing 
impossible to be found. Have I any such afflicted soul 
before me now? 0, my friend, that I could show you 
the root of your difficulty. You carry your case to the 
wrong tribunal, to the casuistries of ethics and not to 
Christ. You get tangled in questions, when you should 
be clear in love. Go where Mary went, or rather where 



THE INSIGHT OF LOVE. 67 

Mary's heart went. Cease from your refinements, re- 
fuse to be caught any more in the mouse-trap questions 
and scruples of duty, and let it be enough to lay your 
soul on Christ's bosom. Resting quietly thus, in the 
sacred bliss of love to Christ's person, wanting nothing 
but to be with him and for him, your torment will soon 
be over. The question of duty will be ended even be- 
forehand, just because the soul of all duty is in you. 
The current of your feeling will run to it and settle it, 
even before you ask where it is. 

3. It is no good sign for a Christian person, that he 
is always trying to settle his duty by calculations, and 
wise presagings of the future ; and it is all the worse, 
if he pleases himself in the confidence that he succeeds. 
Doing nothing by faith, making no room for impulse 
or the inspiration of christian love, he takes the easy 
method of sagacity — easy to the fool as to the wise 
man — determining his questions of course mostly in 
the negative ; for, if there is any doubt, it is always a 
brave thing, and always looks sagacious to say, No ; 
and then, since he undertakes no duty which he can not 
see to the end of, even by his eyes, which is about the 
same as to undertake no duty at all, he conceives that 
he has a more solid way of judging than others. He 
will do nothing out of a great sentiment of course, he 
will break no box of ointment on the head of anybody ; 
he will educate no son for the ministry, for example, 
lest possibly he should be only a maiiyr for the truth, 
and all that has been spent upon him, should only be 
anointing him for his burial. Meantime, what is the 



68 THE INSIGHT OF LOVE. 

love of Christ doing in him? what great impulse of 
love does he trust enough to follow it? He makes a 
winter in the name of piety, and because nothing is 
melted in the heat of it, blesses himself in the solidity 
of his practice ! Possibly there may be a little of the 
christian love in such a person, but the signs are bad. 
To be politic is no certain way of ^being good, and the 
man who tries it, perils every thing. 

4. We have a striking, and at the same time, most 
inviting conception here given us, of the perfect state 
of society and character in the future life. Calculation, 
criticism, moral codes and precepts, none of these are 
wanted longer to regulate the conduct, all the legalities 
are gone by. There is no debate of reasons, no cas- 
uistry. The reign of simple love has come. The 
impulse that moves has its law in itself, and every man 
does what is good, just because only good is in him. 
There is no scruple, no friction, no subtlety of evil to 
be restrained. The conduct of all is pure water flowing 
from a pure spring. And as springs are unconscious 
of their .sweetness, thunders of their sublimity, flowers 
of their beauty, so the perfection of character and con- 
duct is consummated in a spontaneous movement that 
excludes all self-regulation, and requires no dressing of 
the life by rules and statutes. All best and nobles* 
things are done, as it were naturally ; for Christ, whc • 
is formed within, must needs appear without in acts 
that represent himself. All acts of beauty and good 
are like that of the woman, coming to anoint her 
Lord — inspirations of the beauty she loved, wise without 



THE INSIGHT OF LOVE. 69 

study or contrivance, unconscious, spontaneous, and free. 
This now is society, this is character, to this heigh th of 
perfection, this blessedness in good, our Grod is raising 
all that love him. 

After having sunned ourselves, my friends, in this 
bright picture above, some of you, it may be, will now 
return to the earth with a feeling more wearied and 
worn by duty than ever. This everlasting and com- 
punctious study of duty, duty to children, husband 
or wife, duty to poor neighbors, and bad neighbors, 
and impenitent neighbors, duty to Sunday Schools, 
duty to home missions and missionaries, duty to hea- 
thens and savages, duty to contrabands and wounded 
soldiers, and wooden legs in the streets, and limping beg- 
gers at the door, duty to every body, everywhere, every 
day ; it keeps you questioning all the while, rasping in 
a torment of debates and compunctions, till you almost 
groan aloud for weariness. It is as if your life itself 
were slavery. And then you say, with a sigh, "0, if I 
had nothing to do but just to be with Christ personally, 
and have my duty solely as with him, how sweet and 
blessed and secret and free would it be." Well, you 
may have it so ; exactly this you may do and nothing- 
more ! Sad mistake that you should ever have thought 
otherwise ! what a loss of privilege has it been ! come 
back then to Christ, retire into the secret place of his 
love, and have your whole duty personally as with 
him. Only then you will make this very welcome dis- 
covery, that as you are personally given up to Christ's 
person, you are going where he goes, helping what he 



70 THE INSIGHT OF LOVE. 

does, keeping ever dear, bright company with him, in all 
his motions of good and sympathy, refusing even to let 
him suffer without suffering with him. And so you 
will do a great many more duties than you even think 
of now ; only they will all be sweet and easy and free, 
even as your love is. You will stoop low, and bear the 
load of many, and be the servant of all, but it will be a 
secret joy that you have with your Master personally. 
You will not be digging out points of conscience, and 
debating what your duty is to this or that, or him or 
her, or here or yonder ; indeed you will not think that 
you are doing much for Christ any way — not half 
enough — and yet he will be saying to you every hour 
in sweetest approbation — " Ye did it unto me." 



IV. 

SALVATION FOR THE LOST CONDITION 



" For the Son of Man is come to save that which was 
lost" — Math, xviii. 11. 

Every kind of work supposes something to be done, 
some ground or condition of fact to be affected by it ; 
education the fact of ignorance, punishment the fact of 
crime, charity the fact of want. The work of Christ, 
commonly called a work of salvation, supposes in like 
manner the fact of a lost condition, such as makes sal- 
vation necessary. So it is that Christ himself conceives 
it, "For the Son of Man is come to save that which 
was lost." He does not say, you observe, "that which 
is about to be, or in danger of being, lost," but he uses 
the past tense, " vjas lost" as if it were a fact already 
consummated, or, at least, practically determined. This 
work, therefore, is to be a salvation, not as being a pre- 
ventive, but as being a remedy after the fact ; a super- 
natural provision by which seeds of life are to be 
ingenerated in a lapsed condition where there are none. 
At this point then Christianity begins, this is the grand 
substructural truth on which it rests, that man who is 
to be saved by it, is a lost being — already lost. 

And yet there will be many who recoil from this 



72 SALVATION FOR 

assumption of Christ, and, without any willing disre- 
spect to his person, take up a suspicion that he some- 
how over-states the fact of our condition. They could 
admit, without difficulty, that they are imperfect, that 
they sometimes do wrong, and that there is often great 
perversity in men, or it may be in themselves. It 
would not shock them, if it were declared that every 
human being wants forgiveness ; but to say that we are 
lost beings, appears to be an extravagance. They do 
not see it in the tolerably comfortable state of the world, 
and they are not conscious of it in themselves ; they 
think they have even a kind of instinctive conviction 
against it, and feel obliged to repel it as injurious and 
without evidence. 

Probably some of you before me are in just this 
position of mind regarding the great point stated. You 
feel obliged to make issue with the Lord Jesus in re- 
spect to it — doing it, as you believe, not from any dis- 
position to have a conflict with him; but simply because 
you can not assent to his words, and seem even to know 
that the fact he assumes can not be true. The disa- 
greement you will admit is very unequal, but how can 
you assent to a position that so far violates your honest 
convictions. 

What I propose then at the present time, not in the 
way of controversy, but for your sake and Christ's sake, 
is to go over this matter in a careful revision, offering, if 
I can, such a statement of it that, going out as it were 
from your own center and sentiment, you will meet the 
mind of Christ approvingly. Perhaps you will so take 



THE LOST CONDITION. 73 

his meaning as to meet him with a felt tenderness in it, 
such as he most certainly reveals to you ; concluding 
this friendly negotiation, so to speak, in a reverent, 
believing acceptance of him as your own great, neces- 
sary Saviour. To this end let us, 

I. Clear away some obstructions, or points of mis- 
conception, that may put your feeling at unnecessary 
variance with Christ's doctrine, or give you a sense of 
revulsion from it that is not really occasioned by any 
thing in it. 

Thus, when he says " was lost," using the past tense, 
as if the lost condition were a fact accomplished, you 
do not see that either you, or the world is in a state of 
undoing so completely reprobate. But he does not 
mean, when he says " was lost," that the lost condition is 
literally accomplished in the full significance of it, but 
only that it is begun, with a fixed certainty of being fully 
accomplished; that, as being begun, the causes that are 
loosed in it contain the certainty of the fact, as truly as 
if the fact were fully executed. Thus if you see a man 
topple off the brink of a precipice a thousand feet high, 
you say inwardly, the moment he passes his center of 
gravity, " he is gone ; " you know it as well as when 
you see him dashed in pieces on the rocks below ; for 
the causes that have gotten hold of him, contain the 
fact of his destruction, and he is just as truly lost before 
the fact accomplished as after. So if a man has taken 
some deadly poison and the stupor has begun to settle 
upon him already, you say that he is a lost man ; for 

7 



74 SALVATION FOR 

the death-power is in him, and you know as well that 
he is gone, as if he lay dead at your feet. So a soul 
under evil once begun, has taken the poison, and the 
bad causation at work is fatal ; it contains the fact of a 
ruined immortality, in such a sense that we never ade- 
quately conceive it, save as we give it past tense, and 
say, " was lost." 

Again, you have heard of such a thing as "total 
depravity," and the declaration of Christ may be some- 
how associated with such a conception ; a conception 
which you instinctively repel as unjust and extrava- 
gant, and contrary plainly to what you know of the 
many graces and virtues that adorn our human life. 
But this notion of total depravity is no declaration 
of Christ, and he is not responsible for it. It is only a 
speculated dogma of man, which can be so stated as to 
be true, and very often is so stated as to be false. You 
have- nothing to do with it here. 

It has much to do, again with your impressions on 
this subject, that you are so completely wide of all sen- 
sibility to, or consciousness of, the lost condition Christ 
assumes. Have you considered the possibility that you 
may be rather proving the truth of it in that manner? 
"If our gospel be hid," says an apostle, "it is hid to 
them that are lost." If you have no sense of being in 
the lost condition Christ speaks of, if the salvation he 
proposes seems, in that view, to be an exaggeration, a 
fiction, it may be true and is very likely to be, that the 
want of proportion is in you and not in it. I say not 
that it is, I only suggest that it may be. If it is, then 



THE LOST CONDITION. 75 

it will appear by the positive evidence hereafter to be 
given. 

Again, your mind is an active principle, and it keeps 
suggesting, or putting in your way, thoughts that run, 
as it were, to a contrary conviction ; as that God is 
good, and will not put a race in being, to be lost regard- 
ing all good ends of being, or that he is a great being, 
competent every way to keep his foster children safe. 
The argument is short and easy, it seems even to invent 
itself. But there is another counter suggestion that is 
quite as likely to be true, and has weight enough cer 
tainly to balance it ; viz., that God wanted possibly, in 
the creation of men, free beings like himself, and capa- 
ble of common virtues with himself — not stones, or 
trees, or animals — and that, being free and therefore 
not to be controlled by force, they must of necessity 
be free to evil ; consequently never to be set fast in 
common virtues with himself, except as he goes down 
after them into evil and a lost condition, to restore them 
by a salvation. This being true, creatures may be 
made, that perish, or fall into lost conditions, Besides 
the world is full of analogies. The blossoms of the 
spring cover the trees and the fields, all alike beautiful 
and fragrant ; but they shortly strew the ground as 
dead . failures, even the greater part of them, having 
set no beginning of fruit. And then of the fruits that 
are set how many die as abortive growths, strewing the 
ground again. How many harvests also are blasted, 
yielding only straw. In the immense propagations of 
the sea, what myriads die in the first week of life. 



76 SALVATION FOR 

Thus we find nature everywhere struggling in abortive 
growths, fainting, as it were, in the perfecting of what 
her prolific intentions initiate. And all these abortions 
are so many tokens in the lower forms of life, of the 
possibility that there also may be blasted growths in 
the higher. 

Once more the amiable virtues, high aspirations, and 
other shining qualities, you see in mankind, make the 
assumed fact of our lost condition seem harsh and 
extravagant — you could not believe it if you would. 
But considering how high and beautiful a nature the 
soul is, it should not surprise you that it shows many 
traces of dignity even after it has fallen prostrate, and 
lies a broken statue on the ground. Besides, Christ 
himself had even a more appreciative feeling, in respect 
to what may be called our natural character than you. 
When a certain young man, rich, but conscientiously up- 
right and nobly ingenuous, came to him asking what he 
should do " to inherit eternal life?" though he was obliged 
in faithfulness to answer, "one thing thou lackest," — 
requiring him to suffer a total change of life, in the 
sacrifice of all he had, and the assumption of his cross — 
his manner and look were so visibly and affectingly 
tender, nevertheless, as to attract the special attention 
of his disciples, and from them it passed into the nar- 
rative, as a distinctly noted element of description — 
" Then Jesus beholding him, loved him." You might 
not yourself have put any such terms of requirement 
upon him ; I fear that you would not, but would you, 
with, all you sensibilities to natural excellence, have 



THE LOST CONDITION. 77 

loved him as much, or shown it by signs as beautifully 
impressive ? 

Having noted, in this manner, so many points of 
unnecessary revulsion from the fact of a lost condition, 
assumed by Christ in his work of salvation, I think I 
may take it for granted that you are ready — 

II. To look at the evidence of the fact and accept 
the conclusion it brings you. 

And the first thing here to be considered is, that our 
blessed Master, in assuming your lost condition, is not 
doing it harshly, or in any manner of severity. He is 
no dogmatist, making out his article of depravity. He 
is not a teacher of that light quality that permits him 
to be pleased with appalling severities of rhetoric, and 
over-drawn allegations of fact, without any due sense 
of their meaning. His feeling is tender, never censo- 
rious. Sometimes, by a kind of divine politeness so to 
speak r he pats a face on human character and relations 
that avoids a look of impeachment where impeachment 
would be true; as when he speaks of "laying down his 
life for his friends." He could have said "enemies" 
quite as truly, or even more so, but did not like to put 
that now upon his disciples. In the same kind way of 
consideration, but with a deeper feeling, he apologizes 
to Grod for his murderers, even in the article of death, 
and apparently comforts himself in the allowance — 
"Father forgive them, for they know not what they 
do." Is it such a being that will thresh you in random 

7* 



78 SALVATION FOR 

charges, the severity of which is apparent to you and 
not to him ? You can not say it, or even be willing to 
think it. 

Furthermore, it must be evident to you, as it has been 
to all most unrestrained critics and deniers, that his moral 
sentiments and standards are high and sharp beyond 
comparison — higher and sharper certainly than yours. 
He has also a most piercing insight of all that is deepest 
in character and its wants; as, by force of his most 
singular purity alone, he must of necessity have ; what 
then will you sooner think of, when he calls you a lost 
man, than that, possibly, he knows you more ade- 
quately than you know yourself? Having then some 
better right than you to know, what does he in fact 
say? 

I might go to the other scriptures, citing declarations 
from them ; and especially from the writings of Paul, 
who discusses this very point many times over, showing 
by the most cogently close and formal arguments, the 
fallen state of disability and subjection to evil, out of 
which Christ has undertaken to raise you ; but I prefer 
to keep the question still and altogether between you and 
him, and therefore I shall not cite any words but his. 
Notice then his parables of the lost sheep, and the lost 
piece of monejr, not omitting to observe that he is here 
sharpening no point of allegation against men, but only 
setting forth the joy that will accrue to the angels of 
God, and all good beings, when they are restored. Is 
it in this attitude of feeling that he is launching hard 
or unjust judgments upon them? He also speaks of a 



THE LOST CONDITION. 79 

state of "condemnation," declaring in a manifestly 
gentle feeling, that he has not come to condemn but to 
save the world, yet still obliged to add — "he that 
believeth not is condemned already." What is this 
state condemned of God but a lost condition under 
another figure? He uses also the figure of death, 
spiritual death, in the same manner, saying — "I am 
the life." " My Son was dead and is alive again, was 
lost and is found." " Is passed from death unto life." 
"For Grod so loved the world, that he gave his only be- 
gotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not 
perish, but have everlasting life." Death is the con- 
dition of disorder and spiritual dissolution, which is a 
lost condition. Life is salvation, because it is the con- 
dition of harmony restored ; where part answers again to 
part, function to function, in a complete living order. 
The lost condition he also calls a state of "darkness" 
and "blindness," and to it he comes as "the light" and 
"the way." Who is more profoundly lost than he that 
walks groping for the wall? He conceives the lost 
condition as a state of moral disability, in which men 
"have eyes" which "can not see," and "ears which 
can not hear,* and are able no longer to convert, or heal 
themselves. It even requires a divine power in us, he 
conceives, if we are to make any real approach to 
good — " No man can come to me, except the Father 
which hath sent me draw him." Not to multiply cita- 
tions further, take the one practical exhibition of his 
discourse on regeneration. The doctrine is that man, 
as he conceives him, is in such a condition that nothing 



80 ■ SALVATION FOR 

short of a divine movement upon him, can bring him 
back, into that character and felicity for which he was 
made. " Verily, verily I say unto you, except a man 
be born again'- — "born of the Spirit," — "he can not 
see the kingdom of God." 

These now are Christ's convictions, most tenderly, 
faithfully, and variously expressed, concerning man, 
or the lost condition of man — your lost condition. He 
does not come to some very bad men, saying these 
things, but he speaks comprehensively to the race, and 
grounds his work of salvation fixedly upon the lost 
condition affirmed. 

You will not hear them disrespectfully. Still it will 
not be strange if your feeling is unsatisfied. "If it be 
so with me," you will ask, "why may it not somehow 
be made to appear?" Let me take you then a step fur- 
ther, into another field, where I think it will appear. 

As the matter lies between you and Christ, and he 
has spoken already, I will take you now to yourself. 
Think it not strange, if your heart answers, after all, to 
the heart of Jesus, and re-affirms exactly what he has 
testified. 

You live in a world where there is certainly some 
wrong— you have seen it, suffered from it, and con- 
sciously done it. But all wrong, it will be agreed, is 
something done against the perfect and right will of 
God, and a shock must of necessity follow it. Suppose 
a machinist to produce a machine, some one wheel of 
which will somehow run directly the other way from 
what was intended — does run the other way for some 



THE LOST CONDITION. 81 

space, longer or shorter, every few "hours. It will go 
into confusion of course and become a total wreck. 
So a soul going against the will of God, in acts of 
wrong, breaks God's order in it. Taken as a functional 
structure, all the parts of which are to play harmo- 
niously into each other, disorder and ruin begins just 
when wrong begins, and all its goings on afterward 
accelerate and aggravate the disorder. As the junc- 
tures and functions are no more in heaven's order, it is 
practically undone. Then, as the body is the soul's 
organ, the damage is propagated as disease in that. 
And then, as society is made up of souls and bodies, 
that also becomes an element of discord, infested with 
lies, grudges, enmities, jealousies, breaches of trust and 
of contract, deeds of injustice and robbery; history 
itself a volume, the main chapters of which report the 
conflicts of war, the oppressions of slavery, the wrongs 
of woman, the hard fortunes of industry, the corrup- 
tions of courts and governments, the intrigues of diplo- 
macy, the persecutions of the good. 

But I refer you to society thus only in a way of 
transition, and return immediately to the main question 
as it stands in the revelations of your own personal 
consciousness. It has always seemed to me that who- 
ever will accurately note his own inward working, for 
but one half hour, must even be appalled bv the dis- 
coveries he will make. You distinguish first of all a 
certain shyness, or feeling of recoil from God — why 
should you withdraw instinctively thus from a being 
wholly good and pure? It was just this feeling that 



»2 SALVATION FOR 

Adam had, after the sin, when he withdrew and hid 
himself in the garden. Guilt is at the bottom of this 
shyness. And what is a more certainly lost feeling 
than the feeling of guilt? Who can stop it, or smooth 
it away, by any thing done upon himself? It testifies 
to a fact — can you ever annihilate that fact ? No more 
can you stop the guilt which is only a fit remem- 
brance of it. 

You discover also a certain look of disproportion, 
that is painfully significant. Your ambition is too 
high for your possibilities and your place. Your pas- 
sions are too strong for your prudence. Your prudence 
too close for your affections. Your irritabilities too fiery 
at times for both. Your resentments are too impetuous 
for your occasions. Your appetites too large for your 
possibilities of safe indulgence. Your will over-rules 
your conscience. Your inclinations master the dictates 
of your reason. And what is more sadly humiliating 
than any thing else, your great aspirations have some 
weight upon them which they can not lift, falling back 
baffied and spent, with no power left but to notify you 
of their constant failure. Your great ideals too, reveal- 
ing, as it were, the summits of a magnificent nature, and 
lifting their flags of inspiration there, are yet draggled 
somehow and drugged by low impulses, that make you 
a mockery to yourself in your attainments. A kind 
of inversion appears in every thing — sure indication of 
disorder. 

There is disagreement also, as well as disproportion. 
Your practical judgments of things disagree with your 



THE LOST CONDITION. 83 

real wants, magnifying toys of sense, to leave you 
aching for God and the unseen good of the mind. 
Your eyes discover good in shows and outward prefer- 
ments, your convictions place it in truth and character. 
Your generous and high sentiments look down with 
scorn upon the sordid and cowardly impulses of your 
selfishness, to be, in turn, alas ! how often, mastered in 
the conflict with them. Your feeling of independence 
knuckles to conventionalities, and t what begun as a war, 
is ended as a truce, in which you agree, as a kind of 
independent abject, to hold every thing in scorn that is 
not under the fashion. Your eternal convictions quar- 
rel with your passions, and your will quarrels feebly 
with both, misgiving under one, succumbing to the 
other. The whole internal man is a troubled element. 
You hardly know, many times, what to think, on 
the plainest subjects of duty and religion, and are 
most facile to what you least approve. You ask 
where you are? and think you do not know; what 
to believe? and say you can not find; what to do? 
and do what you would not; what to avoid? and 
do it. Your mind is full of distraction — in endless 
mazes lost. 

Take another and simpler view of your disorder, do 
just what so few men ever did, sit down for an hour, 
and watch the run of your thoughts. Nothing flows 
in regular causation, no law of suggestion can be 
more than faintly traced. As a man who is lost in a 
deep forest, turns confusedly one way and the other, 
unable to set his mind in a train of deliberative order, 



84 SALVATION FOK 

so it is with you. Your thoughts huddle on, crossing 
all lines, breaking through all trains, refusing all 
terms of order, uncontrolled, uncontrollable; even 
as droves in the jostle of panic before a prairie fire. 
The law of right proceeding appears to be somehow 
broken, the suggestions are, how often, base, impure, 
and low, and withal defy any look of system. What 
jumps of transition! how incongruous, unaccountable, 
and wild ! Could the internal picture be mapped to the 
eye, what eye could trace it ! It is as if the soul were 
an instrument played by demons. How unlike to the 
sweet flow of order and health in the mind of an angel. 
The metaphysicians do indeed make up their solutions, 
showing how every thing goes on by a law of sugges- 
tion or association in a strictly normal process. Their 
farthing candle gives a very little faint light, wholly 
insufficient, however, as regards the main question. 
The single word disease tells more than all their specu- 
lations. Watching these wild ways of thought, we dis- 
tinguish a ferment of death, and not the flow of life. 
The look is abnormal ; as if the soul were in a kind 
of dissolution. No man, duly observing thus himself, 
will easily doubt that he is somehow lost. The appall- 
ing doubt, whether* he can ever be saved will be more 
natural. What a work indeed to save him, restore him, 
that is, to the state of inward health, raise him up into 
the orderly movement of angelic life, and make the cur- 
rents flow melodious and clear. 

Glance now a moment, at the disabilities that have 
somehow come upon yon, in what the Saviour calls 



THE LOST CONDITION. 85 

your lost condition. You never encountered any 
trouble, it may be, on this point, never thought of being 
under any such disability as he speaks of. Have you not 
your will, your strong will left? Yes, but the difficulty 
is to execute, or carry through what you will to be done. 
When you resolve to govern yourself, thus or thus, or 
to be this or that, according to some ideal conceived, 
does your soul mind you? do you become forthwith 
such as you undertook to be ? Are there no currents 
of habit encouutered, no floods of contrary impulse, no 
volcanic fires of irritation, that prove quite too strong 
for you? Suppose you determine with all seriousness, 
now, or at some future time, to begin a religious life. 
Is it begun? You find base motives creeping into your 
mind, which you disrespect and determine to shut them 
away. Do you succeed ? You grow sick of the world 
in one form or another, and rise up to cast it out. Does 
it go ? You conceive a true notion of spiritual dignity 
and beauty of character, and set yourself to the attain- 
ment. Do you reach it? Try a thing more brave and 
certainly not less necessary; take stiff hold of your 
thoughts, set your will down upon them and still their 
tumult, and tame their wild way, into the sweet order 
of health and rational proceeding. Can you do it? 
Could any thing be more preposterous even than to try ? 
And yet there is no true perfection of soul that does 
not include even this ; including also, in the same way, 
all that belongs to internal order, proportion, agree- 
ment, and a full consent of all functions and powers. 
Have you courage to undertake such perfection ? This 

8 



86 SALVATION FOR 

now is the very profound disability in which Christ 
finds you yourself. Perhaps you never saw it before, 
but be looks upon you tenderly in it, and counts you 
to be lost — is any thing more certainly, manifestly true ? 
This brings me to speak — 

III. Of the salvation — what it is, and by what means 
or methods it is wrought. Too short a space is left me, 
you will see, to allow any thing but a very condensed 
statement. Excluding then all that may be held, or 
contended for, as regards the matter of expiation for sin, 
or the final satisfaction of God's justice, in the death of 
Christ — which can, at the most, be no proper salvation 
from the inward disorder and disability we have discov- 
ered — we come directly to the question, how the death 
is quickened, how the lost condition of the old man is, 
or is to be, renewed by Christ, in his work considered 
as a salvation ? 

Manifestly this can be done only by some means, or 
operation, that respects the soul's free nature, working 
in, upon, or through consent in us, and so new ordering 
the soul. 

Not then, by some divine act in the force principle 
of omnipotence, some new creating stroke from behind, 
that restores our disorder; the change thus accom- 
plished is a mending by repair, and not a recovery ; 
omnipotence, not Christ, is the Saviour. 

As little is it by some help given to your develop- 
ment, or self-culture, or even self-reformation. When 
Lord Chesterfield gives disquisitions on the elegant 



THE LOST CONDITION. 87 

properties of good manners and polite conduct, lie 
speaks to men as having a power to fashion themselves 
by his rules. Christ is no professor of goodness in that 
way. He calls you never to go about being better. 
He does not so much as call upon you to stifle your deep 
hunger, by satisfying your own wants. He does not 
even put you climbing after the glorious ideals you 
have, and the still more glorious he gives you from his 
own life and person ; as if you could get inspiration 
from these to raise yourself. The Chesterfleldian 
method, and the merely moral of Socrates, are not his. 
These were instructors, not Saviours, speaking both to 
men, not to lost men- — what you want, and what Christ 
undertakes to be, is a Saviour for lost men. No scheme 
of Christianity, so called, includes a gospel, which does 
not include this. Any Christ, who does not come to 
save lost men, is antichrist, or at best no Christ at all ; 
for who can be the Lord's true Christ, not coming, as 
life to death, peace within to discord within, order to 
disorder, liberty to bondage. 

We must look, in fact, for some such being as can 
be a World's Eegenerator ; making good the fact that 
God has not created us for a lost condition, but for salva- 
tion. Doubtless it may be true that God could not bring 
us on as free, by any straight line progress of develop- 
ment, into the character he meant for us, and the relation 
to Himself, that was to be our joy and his. As the 
ancient poets tell us of this or that hero of their's, who 
went down to hell, fought away the three-headed clog 
at the gate, and passed the Stygian river, and when the 



88 SALVATION FOR 

grim reconnoisance was over, forced his way back, 
even by the judgment bar of Eadamanthus, out into 
the light; so there was to be, we may believe, an epic 
descent of souls into the hell-state of disorder and judi- 
cial condemnation, and a bursting up again, out of their 
penal imprisonment, into life and free dominion. But 
if the soul-history could not be a simply quiet educing 
of good, if it must be inherently terrible, plunging 
down through gulfs of disaster and loss, in the mad 
experiment of wrong, even as it is itself inherently 
free ; then a Saviour is required who can sound the 
bottom of such gulfs, and bring up the lost ones, into 
that good and glory eternal for which they were made. 
This is Christ the Lord, coming, as in everlasting coun- 
sel, to execute a salvation prepared before the founda- 
tion of the world. 

He works by no fiat of absolute will, as when God 
said " let there be light." He respects your moral 
nature, doing it no violence. He moves on your con- 
sent, by moving on your convictions, wants, sensibil- 
ities, and sympathies. He is the love of God, the 
beauty of God, the mercy of God — God's whole char- 
acter, brought nigh through a proper and true Son of 
Man, a nature fellow to your own, thus to renovate 
and raise your own. Meeting you at the point of your 
fall and disorder, as being himself incarnated into the 
corporate evil of your state, he brings you God's great 
feeling to work on yours. He is deeply enough entered 
into your case, to let the retributive causes loosened by 
your sin roll over him in his innocence, doing honor 



THE LOST CONDITION. 89 

thus to God's judicial order, that you may see it suffi- 
ciently hallowed without your punishment. And that 
he may get the greater and more constraining power 
over you, he reveals to you by his suffering death, the 
suffering state of God's perfection — stung by the 
wrongs, and moved in holy grief for the sad and 
shameful lot of his fallen children. His suffering is in 
fact the tragic hour of divine goodness ; for what to our 
slow feeling, is even eternal goodness, till we see it tragi- 
cally moved? Nay, it was even necessary, if trans- 
gressors were to have their dull heart opened to 
this goodness, that they should see it persecuted and 
gibbeted by themselves. Thus, and therefore, he dies, 
raising by his death at our hands, those terrible con- 
victions that will rend our bosom open to his love — 
dies for love's sake into love in Us. So he will become 
the power of God unto salvation, gathering you in, as it 
were, with all your disorders, into the infolding, new- 
creating sympathy of his own character in good; so 
that being thus infolded in him, all your disproportion, 
discord, disability, and all wild tumult of the mind 
will be new crystalized in his divine order. Thus ends 
the ferment of death, succeeded by the harmony and 
health of new born life. In this view it was that 
Christ said, "I am the life." And the same thing was 
differently put, when he said " and I, if I be lifted 
up, will draw all men unto me." He would draw 
by his death, moving on consent and choice, so to gather 
in all our disorder, into the molds of his own per- 
fect life. 

8* 



90 SALVATION FOR 

And this is salvation, the entering of the soul into 
God's divine order ; for nothing is in order that is not 
in God, having God flow through it by his perfect will, 
even as he sways to unsinning obedience the tides of the 
sea, and the rounds of the stars. As we are lost men 
when lost to God, so we find ourselves when we find 
God. And then, how consciously do the soul's broken 
members coalesce and meet in Christ's order, when 
Christ liveth in them. In this new relationship, the 
spirit of love and of a sound mind, all strength, free 
beauty, solid vigor, get their spring — we are no more 
lost. All that is in God or Christ his Son, flows in 
upon us — wisdom, righteousness, sanctiiication, redemp- 
tion. We are new men created in righteousness after 
God. Even so, "in righteousness;" for we are new- 
charactered in God, closeted so to speak in God's per- 
fections — in that manner justified, as if we had never 
sinned, justified by faith. We have put on righteous- 
ness, and in it we are clothed ; even the righteousness 
of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and 
upon all them that believe. 

This is the salvation that our God is working in his 
Son, but as the great apostle here intimates, it is, and is 
to be, by faith ; for the result can never be issued save 
as we, on our part believe. The very plan, or mode of 
his working supposes a necessity of faith in us. For 
as God comes nigh us in his son, he can be a salva- 
tion, only as we come nigh responsively to Him, yielding 
our feeling to the cogent working of his. And this 
we do in faith. Faith is the act by which one being 



THE LOST CONDITION. 91 

confides in another, trusting up himself to that other, 
in what he is and undertakes. And there is nothing 
that puts a man so close to another's feeling, principle, 
and character, as this act of trust. When you put such 
faith in a man, his opinions, .ways, and even accents of 
voice have a wonderfully assimilative power in you. 
It is as if your life were overspread by his, included in 
his. To be nigh a great good mind, accepted in trust 
and friendship, is, in this manner, one of the greatest 
possible advantages, and especially so for a young per- 
son. In this fact you have the reason of that faith in 
Christ which is made the condition of salvation. For 
it is even your chance of salvation, as a lost man, that 
a being has come into the world, so great in character 
and feeling, that turning to be with him, he shall be in 
you. And therefore, it is that his apostle says — " Christ 
the power of Cod to every one that believeth;" and he 
himself — "he that believeth shall be saved." He can 
be no sufficient power, work no principle of life, save 
as he is welcomed to the heart by faith. In the same 
way, he calls you to " come," for coming is faith. And 
when he says, " come unto me all ye that are weary and 
heavy laden, learn of me and ye shall find rest to your 
souls," he does not speak, as many think, to such as are 
only afflicted, world-sick, tired, pining in weak self- 
sympathy, but to them who are weary of their own 
evils, tossed and rent by their own disorders, thrown 
out of rest by the tumult of their thoughts and bosom 
troubles, starving in their own deep wants, crushed by 
their felt disabilities to good — in a word, lost men. 



92 SALVATION FOR, ETC. 

Thus he speaks to you. And you come when you 
truly believe in him. Then you rest, rest in God's har- 
mony, rest in peace — knowing in the blissful revelation 
of fact, how much it means that the Son of Man is 
come to save that which was lost. 



V. 

THE FASTING AND TEMPTATION OF JESUS 



"Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness 
to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty 
days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered." — 
Math. iv. 1-2. 

I think I do not mistake, when I assume that this 
particular chapter of the gospel history, commonly 
called the temptation, is just the one that a good many 
theologians, and a much larger number of Christian 
disciples, do really,- if not consciously, wish had not 
been written ; that which most stumbles their specula- 
tion, and least fructifies their spiritual impressions; 
that which wears the most suspiciously mythic look, 
that which they skip most frequently in the reading, or, 
if they read, only gather up their minds to go on with 
due attention, after they are through with it. 

Jesus Immanuel, the eternal Word incarnate, inno- 
cence itself and purity, the only perfect being that ever 
trod the earth, fasting ! opening his great ministry of 
life in a fast of forty days, and a conflict with the devil 
for so long a time ! Coming down, as he himself declares 
from heaven, to set up the kingdom of God among men, 
he goes to his work as if it were a deed of repentance — 
out of a desert, out of a fast — inaugurating his sublime 



94 THE FASTING AND 

kingship by austerities and fierce mental conflicts, such 
as guilty souls might undergo for their chastening. 
The picture is incongruous, many think, and revolting to 
faith. Besides they have a settled disrespect to fasting 
itsejf. 

What I propose then at the present time, is a careful 
inquiry into the matter. — The fasting of Jesus in the 
wilderness. My hope is, that I shall be able to clear 
this remarkable scene of what many regard as its for- 
bidding, or unwelcome aspect. I even hope to open 
up a conception of it that will place it along side of the 
agony and the cross, and will make it correspondent^ 
dear to all most thoughtful, practically earnest souls. 

In the descent of the Spirit upon him at his baptism, 
he passes his great inward crisis of call and endowment, 
the effect of which the gospels report, in terms that 
require to be distinctly noted ; saying, one that he is 
"led up," [transported,] another, that he is "led," [taken 
away,] another, that he is "driven" by the Spirit into 
the wilderness. Under all these rather violent forms 
of expression, the fact is signified, that the Spirit, 
coming here upon him in the full revelation of his 
call, raises such a ferment, in his bosom, of great 
thoughts and strangely contesting emotions, that he is 
hurried awa}> to the wilderness, and the state of privacy 
before God, for relief and settlement. He was not 
wholly unapprised of his Messiahship before, but had 
come to no adequate impression of what, as Messiah, 
he was to do and to be. He began at twelve years of 



TEMPTATION OF JESUS. 95 

age, to talk, in words profoundly enigmatical to his 
friends, of being "about his Father's business." He 
was reading also, from that time onward, the prophets, 
so often quoted by him afterward, and his soul was 
making answer more and more consciously to their 
words, even as a bell that chimes responsively to some 
quivering harmony of sound that is felt upon the air. 
Still he was so far from expecting a public inaugural in 
John's baptism, that when John objects, saying "comest 
thou to me?" he only pleads the common reason of 
the multitude, a desire "to fulfill all righteousness," in 
the accepting of John's righteous ministry. 

As he was human, so there was to be a humanly 
progressive opening of his mind, and a growing pre- 
sentiment of his great future. All which makes the 
revelation, when it comes, only the greater and more 
astounding, because he is just so much more capable of 
taking the fit impression of it. Nor does it make any 
difference what particular account we frame of his 
person. If there is a divine-nature soul, and a human- 
nature soul, existing together in him as one person, 
that one person must be in the human type, unfolding by 
a human process, toward the consciously great Mes- 
siahship he is going to fulfill. If he is pure divinity 
incarnate, he is not simply housed or templed in the 
flesh, but inhumanized, categorized in humanity, there 
to grow, to learn, to be unfolded under human condi- 
tions of progress. 

And then it is only a part of the same general view, 
that when his endowment settles upon him, as it does in 



96 THE FASTING AND 

the scene of his baptism, it raises in his feeling jnst the 
same kind of commotion that is raised in any very great 
and really upright human soul ; as for example, in that 
of a prophet when his call arrives. There has been a 
mighty apprehension waking gradually in him before, 
and now there is a mighty breaking in, as it were at 
once, of the tremendous call; all the great movings 
attendant — sentiments, misgivings, joys of hope, agonies 
of concern — coming in with it, like the coming in of the 
sea. The surges break all round him, and the little 
skiff of humanity that he has taken for his voyage 
quivers painfully — quivers even the worse that it feels the 
heavy armament aboard of so great purpose and power. 
An amazing transformation is suddenly wrought in 
his consciousness. As heaven opens above to let forth 
the voice, and let down the power, and the gate is set 
open before him to let him forward into his great future 
as a world's Redeemer ; as every thing opens every way 
to prepare his mighty kingship, and he feels the Mes- 
sianic forces heaving in his breast, he reels so to speak, 
under the new sense he has of himself and his charge, 
moved all through in a movement so tremendous that 
every faculty groans in the pressure, like a forest sway- 
ing in a storm. And the result is that he does what he 
must — tears himself utterly away from the incontinent 
folly of human voices, and the sorry conceit of human 
faces, and plunges into the deep silence and solitude of 
the wilderness ; there to settle his great inward commo- 
tions and compose himself to his call. He is "driven 
of the Spirit," only in the sense that the crisis brought 



TEMPTATION OF JESUS. 97 

upon him by his call and felt endowment drives him. 
And he goes "to be tempted of the devil," only in the 
sense that, being so mightily heaved by his inward 
commotion, he both is and will be tempted thus, till he 
finds his point of rest, and settles into his plan of 
sacrifice. 

As to the fast itself, it is not likely that he had any 
thought of fasting, when he betook himself to the re- 
tirement of the wilderness ; he only found, when there, 
that a fast was upon him, and since it might help 
him to subdue his partly intractable humanity more 
completely to his uses, he took it for his opportunity, 
refusing to come out into the sight of the world's works 
and faces, to obtain his customary food. The great 
inward tumult he was in held him thus to his fasting 
for a whole forty days, and so deep was the stress of his 
feeling, that he does not appear to have been particu- 
larly conscious of hunger, till the very last of it ; when 
as we are told " he began to be an hungered " — all 
which, as many are forward to say, is a myth, or, if 
not, a perfectly incredible story ; no mortal organization 
being able to subsist for so long a time without food. 
And yet we hear every few months, of cases well 
attested that correspond. There appears in fact, to be 
a possible state of mental and nervous tension, that 
allows the subject to maintain life without food, for a 
much longer time than he could in the quiet equili- 
brium of a more natural state, / 

1 But what is Christ doing in this long solitude and 

9 



y» THE FASTING AND 

silence of the wilderness ? To say that he is fasting 
does not satisfy our inquiry. The fast we can see, is 
total ; not a fasting from food only, but from the com- 
forts of human habitations, from conversation, from 
society, and even from public worship in the synagogue, 
where "his custom" was, even from his childhood, to 
be always present. Isolated thus from the great world, 
and closeted with God in that grim wilderness, there is 
of course, no one to report him and he has not chosen 
to report himself; save that, in the very closing scene 
of his exhaustion, which is often called " the tempta- 
tion," he allows the veil to be lifted. 

Who has not wished many times, that he could have 
the record of these forty days ? And yet they may be 
worth even the more to us, that the record is not 
given — left with a veil hung over it, left to the imag- 
ination; by that only, as the purveyor to faith and 
sympathy, to be explored and pictured as it may be in 
its scenes, for there is nothing so fructifying as the sup- 
plying fondly of what is not given us in our Master's 
history, but is left, in this manner, to our creative lib- 
erty. In this view, certain blank spaces were even 
necessary, it may be to our complete benefit in the 
record of his life. Had he kept a complete diary for 
us of the forty days experience, it might have been a 
far less fruitful chapter, than the almost total blank he 
has left us to range in, loosing our love in tender explo- 
rations and reconnoisances, and constructing a history 
for our faith, out of the scantiest helps given to our 
understanding. 



TEMPTATION OF JESUS. VM 

Among the few things given, or which we sufficiently 
know, are such as these ; that he is not bewailing his 
sins; that he is not afflicting himself purposely in 
penances of hunger and starvation ; that he is not 
wrestling with the question whether he will undertake 
the work to which he is called. The first he can not be 
doing, because he has no sins to bewail ; nor the second, 
because he is no believer in the doctrine of penance ; 
nor the third, because his choices are concluded always, 
by the simple fact that any thing right or good is given 
him to do. If by reason of his human weakness he 
suffers, for a time, great revulsions of body and mind, 
that do not pertain to his voluntary nature, that is 
quite another matter. We shall find reason to think it 
may be true. 

But these are negations only, and I think we shall 
be able to fix on several very important points, where 
we know sufficient in the positive, to j ustify a large de- 
duction, concerning the probable nature of the struggle 
through which Jesus is here passing. 

1. He has a nature, that in part, is humanly derived, 
so far an infected, broken nature. He has never sinned, 
he has lived in purity, under this humanly impure in- 
vestment ; growing more and more distinctly conscious 
of those higher affinities by which he thus dominates 
over the human, unable to be soiled by its contact. 
But now it is opened to him in his call, that he is here 
not as here belonging, that he is sent, let down into the 
world, incarnated into human evil, into the curse. 
There must have been some time at which the sense of 



100 THE FASTING AND 

this fact became fully developed in him ; doubtless it 
was partly developed before, but it could not be com- 
pletely till now, because his Messiahship, or mission 
of salvation to sinners, requiring him to be incarnated 
into the very fall and broken state of sin, was not 
before opened to him. Now it is opened, and the 
whole relation he is in flashes upon him. Before he 
had the contact of evil in a simply quiet mastery, now 
he has it in the grim discovery, that he is membered into 
it! Feeling himself incorporated thus into the corpo- 
rate evil of the world, to bear its woe and shame, and 
hate and wrong, as being of the common humanity, he 
shudders in horrid recoil and revulsion — takes himself 
away into the desert, there to wrestle with his feeling, 
till he gets ready to bear the sin of the world with a 
mind leveled to the burden of its ignominy. For a 
time, he is just as much more disturbed and revolted, 
probably, as he is more consciously divine. In those 
forty days of trial, instinctively withdrawn from men, 
how often looking out upon them, did his divine chas- 
tity recoil from the fearful and even shocking relation- 
ship into which he was come. This in great part is the 
cross — not the wood, nor the nails, nor the vinegar, but 
the men, and the breath of hell, their malignity is 
breathing upon him. 

2. It is not to be doubted that he had internal strug- 
gles of a different nature, growing out of his hereditary 
connection with our humanly disordered and retribu- 
tively broken state. I refer, more especially, to what 
must have come upon him under the law of bad sug- 



TEMPTATION OF JESUS. 101 

gestion. How it was with him in the closing scene, 
after he began to be an hungered— the bad thoughts 
that came to him, as by satanic suggestion — we are 
expressly told. And it is not to be doubted that his 
very call and spiritual endowment, raising, as they did, 
the sense of his kingly dignity and power, would also 
call out from his infected humanity, whole troops of 
bad thoughts or treacherous suggestions, even as the 
history declares. Eaised in order and power, it is only 
human to be tempted by suggestions of the figure he 
can make, and the prodigious things he may do. It is 
not probably true that Jesus was contending, for the 
whole forty days, with such kind of temptations as 
came upon him at the close. But as certainly as his 
mind had a man- wise way of thinking, he must have 
had many thoughts coming upon him that required him 
to repeat his " get thee behind me," and turn his great 
nature home upon God and his work closely enough to 
pre-occupy it, and take away the annoyance. Neither 
let us shrink from such a mode of conceiving him, as 
if it were a derogation from his perfect character. 
Mental suggestion is not voluntary, but takes place 
under mental laws, going where it will, and running 
more or less wildly, where there is any contact of the 
nature with disorder. JSTo crime is incurred by evil 
suggestion, when there is no encouragement of it, or 
yielding of the soul to it. As then Jesus was to be 
tempted in all points like as we are only without sin, 
it is even a fact included, that, when his tremendous call 
took him, an immense irruption of evil suggestions, 

9* 



102 THE FASTING AND 

bursting up from his low born humanity, must have 
taken him also. And this, I conceive, is what is meant, 
when he is declared to have been driven of the Spirit 
into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. The 
very call of the Spirit brought this contest upon him. 
I do not exclude the possibility - of some access of bad 
spirits concurrently working with the bad thoughts; 
for he was tempted just as men are, and as being a man. 
And he gained his victory, doubtless by a struggle often 
renewed and variously protracted. 

3. It is not to be doubted that his human weakness 
made a fearful recoil from the lot of suffering, and the 
horrible death now before him. Human nature is 
keenly sensitive to suffering ; but we manage often to 
bear a great deal of it, because we do not know of it 
beforehand, but have it coming upon us by surprises, 
or turns of Providence not expected. Hence there is 
nothing so common as the remark, from one or another, 
that he could not have borne such trials as have come 
successively upon him, if he had been advised, of them 
and had them in full view beforehand. 

But the call of Christ, as it now opened, was a call 
to suffering ; a call to be fulfilled by sorrow and pain, 
and consummated by the ignominy of a cross. The 
great Messiahship in which he was inaugurated, was to 
be a power of salvation for the world, as being a sub- 
lime tragedy of goodness. In this respect, his career 
of suffering was different, widely, from that of any 
mortal of the race, in the fact that he came into it with 
a full knowledge flashed upon him, of all that he was 



TEMPTATION OF JESUS. 106 

to bear from the sin he was to conquer. As we hear 
him speak in one of his earliest discourses of being 
" lifted up," recurring more than once to the same thing 
afterward, and using the same expression, calling his 
disciples also, many times over, to "take up the cross" 
and follow him, we can see for ourselves how the sor- 
row, and buffeting, and shame, and cross, all met him 
and stood in their appalling certainty always before 
him, from the first hour of his call onward. The recoil 
of his human nature from such a prospect must have 
been dreadful — mortally regarded, insupportable. 

Let us not be misled, at this point, by the fact that 
he is a superior nature incarnate, imagining that he 
must also be superior, in that manner, to suffering. 
He has taken the human nature, and taken it as it is, 
by inheritance, and though it is good for symbol, as 
being the express image of God — better than all nature 
up to the stars beside — still it is weak for the matter of 
suffering, and is, in fact, only the more perfect for his 
uses on that account. Good, therefore, as symbol, it 
has to be conquered as organ. It wants staunching, 
for so dreadful a service, by some strong mastery, be it 
that of a fast, or of any other kind of discipline. 
Otherwise, being all weakness, it would even be treason 
if it could. Nothing could be farther off from the 
heroic in sacrifice, more susceptible to fear, more instinc- 
tively averse to the hatred of men, more unwilling to 
to die, and die hard, and die low. And what shall he 
do more naturally, in the confused struggles of his feel 
ing, than withdraw till the terrible revulsion is quelled 



104 THE FASTING AND 

or, what is the same, till lie gets the poor, unsteady, 
low bred organ of his life brought up, into the scale of 
his sacrifice. 

4. There comes upon him also, at the point of his 
call or endowment, still another and vaster kind of 
commotion, that belongs even to his divine nature, 
holding fit proportion with the greatness and perfection 
of it. The love he had before to mankind, was prob- 
ably more like that of a simply perfect man. Having 
now the fallen world itself put upon his love, and the 
endowment of a Saviour entered consciously into his 
heart, his whole divinity is heaved into such commo- 
tion as is fitly called an agony ; answering, in all re- 
spects, to the agony of the garden. How differently 
do we feel for any subject of benevolence the mo- 
ment we have undertaken for him. He lies upon our 
heart-strings night and day, as a burden. We watch 
for him with a painful concern, we agonize for him. 
So when Jesus takes the world upon his love, it plunges 
him at once, into what may be called the suffering state 
of God; for it belongs to the goodness of God, just 
because it is good, to suffer, as being burdened in feel- 
ing for all wrong-doers and enemies. Every sort of 
love, the maternal, the patriotic, the christian, has for 
its inseparable incident, a moral suffering in behalf of 
its subjects. God has the same, in a degree of intensity 
equal to the intensity and compass of his love. And it 
is this moral suffering that now comes upon Christ, and 
is to be revealed by his incarnate ministry. The stress 
upon his feeling is too heavy to be supported by the frail 



TEMPTATION OF JESUS. 105 

and tender vehicle of his humanity. It rolls in like 
a sea, and his human nature can not breast the heavy 
surge of it. He goes apart in the terrible recoil, both 
of his divine feeling and his human nature, sinks away 
into the recesses of the wilderness, crushed by the 
burden that has come upon his agonizing heart. As 
was just now intimated, his experience corresponds with 
that of his agony ; for it was the same burden return- 
ing upon him, at that crisis, that threw him on the 
ground, and wrenched his feeling, in such throes of 
concern for his enemies, that his too feeble body gave 
way, and the gates of the skin flew open before the 
terrible pressure on his heart. I do not say that any 
such scene is transacted here in these forty days. I only 
know that Christ has the same weak body, and the 
same great feeling, burdened now for men, and, what is 
much to be considered, it has come upon him just as 
suddenly as the investiture and official endowment of 
his call. I do not see his prostrations. I do not catch 
the wail of his prayer, "let this cup pass from me," I 
only see that a great and dreadful commotion must be 
upon him — leaving him to cope with it as he best may, 
in that mysterious silence and solitude into which he 
has retreated from our human inspection. 

Once more, the mind of Jesus, in his forty days 
retirement and fasting, must have been profoundly 
engaged and powerfully tasked in the unfolding of the 
necessary plan. He can not bolt into such a work, 
embracing such an immense reach of territory, and 
time, and kingly rule, without considering, beforehand, 



106 THE FASTING AND 

and distinctly conceiving the what, and how, and when, 
and why, of his work. Doubtless there is a divine plan 
ready for him, and has been even from before the world's 
creation, but he, as being man, must think it consecu- 
tively out, step by step, in a certain human way of 
reception, or development, else he is not in it. No 
matter if the plan lay perfect in him as the Ancient 
of Days before he came into the world, still the counsel 
of it lay, not in words, or specific judgments, but in 
the -infinite abyss of his boundless intuition. Now, in 
consenting to be man, he consents to be unfolded grad- 
ually in body and mind, to grow as he feeds, and know 
as he thinks. Nor does it make any difference if his 
thinking draws on the infinite ; for to think the infinite 
into the finite, deific light into form and particularity, 
is a very considerable work that will not soon be done. 
His plan, therefore, must be thought, in order to be 
humanly had. Yesterday he had it not, to day the 
call has come that requires it, and a great soul-labor 
begins. Doubtless he has thought much, coasting round 
the subject before; he has read the Messianic prophets, 
and had their visions opened to his understanding, 
probably, as no other ever had before ; his every fac- 
ulty is clear, and broad, and deep, and rapid, in a de- 
gree surpassing all genius. Still, making all such 
allowance, how far off is he, at the coming of his call, 
from having any complete fact-form plan ready for it. 
The matter of it includes even the reasons of the creation, 
also the last ends of the creation, what between has 
been already done and what remains to be, in the great 



TEMPTATION OF JESUS. 107 

new future; all that affects God's relations to men, and 
men's to God, and the eternal kingdom as connecting 
both. In this great salvation-problem, therefore, touch- 
ing always the infinite and finite together, what he shall 
do and teach ; what,' and when, and how, he shall suffer; 
by whom he shall organize, and for a time how long — 
in this problem, to be wrought out in a train of finite 
human thinking, his forty days will have enough to do, 
pour in fast and free as the stupendous revelation will. 
Full of all heaviest commotion therefore, on the side of 
his feeling, the great deep of intelligence also in Jesus 
must be mightily heaved, that his counsel may be ade- 
quately settled. O thou grim solitude of wilderness, 
what work is going on, these days, in thy silence! 

How great and rapid the movement of his counsel has 
been, we may see, when coming out, after the forty 
days, into his ministry, he opens his mouth in his beati- 
tudes and goes on with his wonderful first sermon, 
speaking, how decisively and calmly and with what 
evident repose ; then beginning straightway his mira- 
cles, calling his apostles, and organizing his cause ; evi- 
dently master of his plan even as a practiced general of 
his campaign — ready in all ripe counsel, to spread him- 
self out on the great world-future of his kingdom. 

Beginning thus at the call of Jesus, and making this 
large induction from what we know concerning him, I 
think you will agree, my friends, that these forty days 
of his in the wilderness must have been the most event- 
ful days of his Messiahship, including beyond question, 
a vast, unknown, scarcely imaginable, but necessary 



108 THE FASTING AND 

and sublime, preparation for his work. No other chap- 
ter, I may safely say, in the whole history of Jesus, has 
a more fascinating and mysterious interest to our feel- 
ing, covered though it be in dimness and silence. 

I have alluded once or twice to the agony of Jesus. 
I might also refer you to hours when the same deep 
conflict more than once, rolls back on him for a space, 
and his mighty " soul is troubled," venting itself in words. 
I can not resist the impression that the real agony of 
Jesus took him at the very first. How he bore himself 
in it for so many days in those desert wilds, his atti- 
tudes, his sleep or want of sleep, his prostrations and 
prayers, his groanings in spirit, his spaces of brightness 
and victorious courage and peace, his deep ponderings by 
day or night, sitting under the grim rocks — none of 
these are given us, but our heart will indulge itself in 
them and rightly may. 

Some few incidents are given us which, taken to- 
gether, signify much. Thus, he is not hungry, he is too 
powerfully wrought in by his thoughts and emotions to 
have the sense of hunger. 

He is also alone. In the agony of the garden he has 
his friends with him, and looks to their sympathy for 
support. Here he has no friend with him, because he 
has not yet any friend enlisted, who can at all under- 
stand him, or yield him even a word of comfort. 

I said he was alone — no he is not alone, but as Mark 
very casually intimates, "he is with the wild beasts." 
And this word with indicates a strange concomitancy, 
by which they are somehow drawn to come about him 



TEMPTATION OF JESUS. 109 

and be with him, in a way of harmless attention. For 
the term " ivild beasts" does not mean simply wild ani- 
mals, but the savage beasts of prey, such as lions, pan- 
thers, wolves, and the like. These are with Jesus, 
coming about him in his prostrations, drawing near in 
the moanings of his sleep, fawning about him tenderly 
when he sits in silence ; going back, as it were, to the 
habit of paradise, and symbolizing, by their harmless 
companionship, that future paradise which he is to restore. 
Glad sign most surely, they, to his struggling heart. 

Still another and very different class of beings come 
to him — I mean the angels. These we are told minis- 
tered unto him. Great joy was that to the angels ! and 
it must have been as great to him ! In such a state of 
long, long conflict and trial, how blessed were these vis- 
itors from the great world of peace above, their com- 
munications how sweet, how rich in assurance ! So be- 
tween the beasts and the angels, men being wholly 
away, Jesus gets tokens of sympathy that minister com- 
fort, and help him to compose himself to the opening 
tragedy of his life. 

We come, at last, to the final crisis of the trial, which 
many, by what appears to me a very great mistake, 
call the temptation ; as if it covered the whole ground 
of the forty days. Exactly contrary to this the history 
says expressly — "And when he had fasted forty days 
and forty nights he was afterward an hungered." Or 
according to another gospel, — "when they were ended, 
he began to be an hungered." The three temptations 
follow. So powerfully had his mighty soul been 

10 



110 THE FASTING AND 

wrought in, that he had not, till this time, been conscious 
of hunger. But now, at last, he is spent, and nature 
breaks under exhaustion. The representation appears 
to be that the fevered, half delirious state of hunger is 
upon him ; and the phantoms of lying suggestion rush 
into his weakened brain, to bear down, if possible, his 
integrity. But it is not possible; even his broken, 
reeling, faculty is too strong in its purity for the utmost 
art of his enemy. And his triumph is thus finally com- 
pleted, in the fact that any shred of his sinless majesty 
is seen to be enough to hold him fast, when the shat- 
tered vehicle of his humanity has quite given way. 

That this, or something like it, is the true account to 
be taken of the story, is hardly to be questioned. It 
must have been derived from his own report ; for no 
one else was privy to the matter of it. And he simply 
meant, I have no doubt, in the three temptations recited, 
to report what appeared to him, visionally speaking ; 
or how they stood before his fevered brain. To believe 
that he was actually taken up by the devil, and set on 
the pinnacle of the temple, when fifty miles away ; or 
that he was taken up into a mountain so exceedingly 
high, that he could see all the kingdoms of the round 
world from the top, is fairly impossible. He only re- 
reported the seemings of his hunger-fevered state. All 
temptations are but seemings. The devils bait their 
hook, never with truths, always with illusions. Nor 
were the temptations any the less real, or satanic, as being 
phantoms of exhaustion. This, in fact, was to be his vic- 
tory, that not even his unsettled, weakened, faculty could 



TEMPTATION OF JESUS. Ill 

be seduced by such phantoms, whether of internal or ex- 
ternal suggestion. In this victory the trial of Jesus was 
finished — " And when the devil had ended all the tempt- 
ations, he departed from him for a season." Now 
therefore he is ready, and the great Messianic ministry 
begins. 

Scarcely necessary is it, my brethren, to say that it will 
be such a ministry as the great first chapter of the fast 
prepares — such and no other. I know not any point 
beside, in the history of his life, where you may take 
your stand and see the whole course of it open, with such 
intelligible unity and clearness. As the dawn prepares 
the day, so the forty days prepare the three wonderful 
years. Taking the fast for your initial point, and care- 
fully distinguishing what goes on there, and is done or 
made ready, every thing appears to come out naturally, 
in a sense, from it. Here, in fact, as you may figure, 
Christ officially young, levels himself to his aim ; and 
then, as age is not the count of years but of works, puts 
himself into his great ministry with such momentum 
and constancy, giving so much counsel, expending so 
much sympathy, suffering so great waste of sorrow, that 
he dies, at the end of three years, like one ripened by 
full age. The unsteadiness, the overdoing, the ro- 
mance, of unpracticed energies, nowhere appears, but 
the regular gait of sagacity, patience, sound equilibrium, 
as of one who has his counsel ready, brings him on to 
his close. Whether this maturity is unfolded by the 
very rapid development of his crowded, heavy -pressing, 



112 THE FASTING AND 

all-doing ministry, or was really prepared, for the most 
part, in the fiery forty days of his trial, it may be diffi- 
cult to say. Only this is abundantly clear, that he 
came out of that trial, to make his beginning, both 
strong and ready. If he did not seem to be as old 
when he gave the sermon on the mount as when he 
answered before Pilate, he was as thoroughly assured, 
and as completely master of the situation. From that 
time onward his equipoise is perfect, and his movement 
restful and smooth — never hurrying after counsel not 
yet arrived, but visibly set on by counsel, such as leaves 
no room for surprise, or a moment's faltering. The 
sweetness, and repose, and readiness he is in, are such 
as indicate a mental graduation into counsel, and vic- 
tory already accomplished — as he had, in fact, con- 
quered, beforehand, the world, and the devil, and his 
own humanity, and had come to such kind of settle- 
ment as a victor only gets. Many martyrs have borne 
themselves heroically when the doom was on them, and 
the pressure of the hour riveted their firmness. But 
Christ was a martyr at large and beforehand, who had 
taken the sentence of death in the wilderness, and 
bowed himself in consecration upon it, coming out to 
live martyr- wise; but as strong, as steady, as free, as 
the felt mastery both of death and of himself could 
make him. Figuring himself to himself, deliberately, 
as a grain of wheat falling into the ground to die, and 
so to live again more fruitfully, he settles calmly into 
his appointment, without misgiving or regret. Having 
also a great baptism, as he knows, to be baptized with, 



TEMPTATION OF JESUS. 113 

he is no wise appalled by the prospect, but only op- 
pressed by the delay; exclaiming, "how am I strait- 
ened till it be accomplished." In all which we may see, 
that the highest nerye of courage, endurance, and reso- 
lute equability, may be set, only in the silence and soli- 
tude of a complete self deyotion, never in the noisy 
tumult of commotions and great throes of public excite- 
ment. What other being among men ever graduated 
into such glory of public life as Jesus, when he came 
out of the desert and his. forty days of silence ! 

I do not mean, of course, in hanging so much upon 
the temptation of the forty days, to say that Jesus was 
never tempted before, or after that time. All such tempt- 
ations were casual, matters by the way, having a certain 
consequence, but no principal consequence in fixing the 
tenor of his life. But the forty days temptation had 
this distinction, that it took him at the point of crisis, 
so that every thing was turned by the settlement, and 
went with it. There could be only one such crisis, and 
the turning of it rightly was the grand inaugural of all 
that came after, in his wonderful and gloriously conse- 
crated ministry. 

In just the same manner, there is, I conceive, in the 
life of almost every Christian disciple, a crisis, where 
every thing most eventful, as regards the Christian value 
of his life to himself, and of his consecration to God, es- 
pecially hinges, and where, as we may figure, his grand 
temptation meets him. Other temptations have gone 
before, others will come after, here is the temptation of 
his personal call, and opportunity. What it will be, or 
10* 



114 THE FASTING AND 

in what form it will come, can not of course, be speci- 
fied; enough that it will commonly bring the strong 
present conviction with it of a great Christian crisis ar- 
rived, on which all the heaviest results of character and 
service done for God are depending. At such a time, 
there is to be no haste or precipitation. The time for a 
grand, practical, settlement of the life has come, and. if 
the man has any gravity of meaning or high aspiration, 
he will meet the crisis practically, and if possible, un- 
derstandingly. To let go society, pleasure, profit, and 
the table, nay, to get away from them, will be a kind 
of relief. Any thing, any campaign of prayer, and 
thought, and self-devotement, will be accepted heartily, 
and be long enough protracted to settle the result finally 
and firmly. One great reason, brethren, why we make so 
poor a figure of fitfulness and inconstancy, is that we 
go by jets of emotion, or gusts of popular impulse, or 
sallies of extempore resolve ; we do not settle our ques- 
tion upon a footing of counsel, and inward consecra- 
tion, and, in fact, do not take time to settle any thing ; 
least of all, any such great crisis of life. Moses drew 
off into the wilderness and was there forty years, get- 
ting ready for the call that was already half uttered in 
his heart. Paul retired into Arabia, and was there 
three years, gathering up his soul and soul's fuel, for 
the grand apostleship of word and sacrifice. So the 
Christian, every Christian, who has come to his crisis, 
will take time for the settlement of his plan, and the 
equipment of his undertaking — if not forty days, then 
as many as are wanted. 



TEMPTATION OF JESUS. 115 

Having this high work upon you, brethren, silence and 
solitude will be congenial, and the fasting of Jesus will 
be remembered by you with a strange sympathy — 
all in the endeavor to come out on your future, 
thoroughly consecrated to it, even as he was to his. 
Drawn to him in such profoundest sympathy with his 
temptation, how tenderly and approvingly will he 
be drawn to you, pouring, as he best may, all the riches 
of his forty days struggle and consecration to sacrifice 
upon you. " For in that he himself hath suffered being 
tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted." 
Any life is great and blessed, into which you are en- 
tered, upon this high footing with Christ your Master. 
You can not be worse handled by men, or by what is 
called fortune, than he was ; can not be more faithful 
to God's high purpose in you, or more consciously great, 
and happy, and true ; and that, if I am right, is the 
only kind of life at all worthy of you. And then, at 
the end, it will be yours to say, in the sublime confi- 
dence also of your Master — "I have glorified thee on 
the earth, I have finished the work which thou gavest 
me to do." 



VI. 

CONVICTION OF SIN BY THE CROSS, 



11 Of sin, because they believe not on me. Of righteous- 
ness, because I go to the Father, and ye see me no more. 
Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 11 — 
John, xvi. 9-11. 

In the convincement of sin, the Holy Spirit is to be 
the agent, and Christ rejected the argument — so Christ 
himself conceives the promise of the Spirit which he is 
here giving. The convincing work is to be wrought by 
no absolute method of force, but by truths and reasons 
drawn from Christ's person, and the treatment he re- 
ceived from the world. "Of sin," he says, "because 
they believe not on me." The two other points that he 
adds — " Of righteousness because I go to the Father 
and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the 
prince of this world is judged;" — appear to be only 
amplifications of the first, or points in which the guilty 
convictions of his rejectors will be raised to a higher 
pitch. Thus when he is gone out of the world to be 
seen here no more, gone up to the Father in visible 
divine majesty, they will begin to conceive who he 
was — the Son of God, the righteousness itself of God. 
He will be no more the man or the prophet, poorly 
apprehended, doubtfully conceived; all their opinions 



ETC. 117 

of him will undergo a revision, and their minds be 
quickened to a new sense even of what righteousness 
is ; so, to a deeper more condemning, more appalling 
sense of their sin. Then again this conviction will be 
set home with a still heavier emphasis, by the fact made 
visible in his death and resurrection, that the "prince 
of this world is judged," and forever cast down. For 
if evil, when triumphant by conspiracy, still can not 
triumph, but falls inevitably doomed, how certainly 
doomed is every soul that meets the Just One it rejected, 
on its final day. When the bad empire called the 
world, is itself cloven down, visibly, by the rising and 
the over-mastering kingship of God's Messiah, the con- 
viction of sin will be as much more appalling, as the 
general defeat and overthrow requires it to be. 

It is then a fixed expectation of Christ himself, and 
that is the truth to which I am now going to call your 
attention — that his mission to the world will have a consid- 
erable part of its value, in raising a higher moral sense in 
mankind, and producing a more appalling conviction of 
their guilt or guiltiness, before God. 

A widely different, or even contrary, impression 
appears to be generally derived from certain things 
said in the scripture, concerning the law ; taken as they 
are, in a less qualified manner than they should be, or 
the facts of the gospel require them to be. Thus it is 
declared that, " by the law is the knowledge of sin." 
It is also described in its relation to the gospel, as " the 
letter that killeth," "the ministration of death," "the 



118 CONVICTION OF SIN 

ministration of condemnation;" that on the other hand, 
being "the Spirit that giveth life," "the ministration 
of righteousness." On the ground of such representa- 
tions, an impression is received, that conviction of sin 
is distinctively "a law work." As such it is specially 
magnified, and it is even abundantly insisted on, that 
the effective preaching of the law is the prime condition 
of all genuine success in preaching. The conception is 
that what is called " the law " is a certain battery side 
of government, before which guilty minds are to be 
shot through with deadly pangs, and then that the min- 
istration of life, in Jesus and his cross, coming on the 
gentle side opposite, does a work of pure healing and 
life. On that side, all is condemnation. On this side, 
all is forgiveness. There is guilt, here is peace. Bond- 
age only is there, liberty only is here. 

Now this impression is so far true, that conviction 
of sin doubtless supposes the fact of some rule or law, 
broken by sin ; and that, when such law is broken, it 
can, as law, do nothing more than condemn — can not 
help, or save. God only can do that, and that he does 
in Christ. 

But, in a certain other view, there is more law in 
Christ, more, that is, in his character and life and doc- 
trine, then there is in all statutes beside. The law of 
Eden is to the law of the sermon on the mount, as a 
jewsharp to an organ. The ten commandments, mostly 
negative, or laws of not doing, are not, all together, as 
weighty and broad upon the conscience, as Christ's one 
positive law, "Do ye unto others as ye would that 



BY THE CROSS. 119 

others should do unto you." Not even the thun- 
ders of Sinai are any match for the silent thunders of 
Calvary. 

Besides, it is not so much the question, where most 
law is given, as by what means the sense of law may 
be most effectually quickened, where before it slept. 
And here it is that Christ's great expectation hinges, 
when he says, "of sin," "of righteousness," "of judg- 
ment." For in him, the law is more than a rule, or 
than all rules — a person, clothed in God's righteousness, 
bearing Grod's authority, filling and permeating all 
human relations with an exact well doing, and with all 
most loving ministries, such as never before had been 
even conceived in these relations. How much then 
will it signify, when guilty minds are so painfully dazed 
by the glories of right in his person, that they can not 
endure the sight; conspiring even his death, and falling 
upon him in their implacable malice, to thrust him out 
of the world ! Why, simply to have had such a being 
living in the world, doing his work, suffering his pains 
at the hands of his enemies and breathing out his pure 
untainted breath upon the poisoned air, changes it to a 
place of holy conviction, where sin must be ever know- 
ing itself, and scorching itself in its own guilty fires ! 

Thus much it was necessary to say, in a way of 
general statement, or adjustment, as respects the rela- 
tive agency of Christ and the law in the convincement 
of guilty minds. That Christianity was to have, and 
has had, a considerable part of its value, in this con- 
vincing, as well as in a forgiving and restoring agency, 



120 CONVICTION OF SIN 

I will now proceed to show, by arguments more special 
and positive. And — 

1. Make due account of the fact, that conviction of 
sin is a profoundly intelligent matter, and worthy, in 
that view, to engage the counsel of Grod in the gift of his 
Son. If we have any such thought as that what is 
called conviction of sin is only a blind torment, or crisis 
of excited fear, technically prescribed as a matter to be 
suffered in the way of conversion, we can not too soon 
rid ourselves of the mistake. It is neither more nor 
less than a due self-knowledge — not a knowledge of the 
mere understanding, or such as may be gotten by phi- 
losophic reflection, but a more certain, more immediate 
sensing of ourselves by consciousness; just the same 
which the criminal has, when he hies himself away from 
justice; fleeing, it maybe, when no man pursueth. He 
has a most invincible, most real, knowledge of himself; 
not by any cognitive process of reflection, but by his 
immediate consciousness — he is consciously a guilty 
man. All men are consciously guilty before God, and 
the standards of Grod, in the same manner. They do 
not approve, but invariably condemn themselves ; only 
they become so used to the fact that they make nothing 
of it, but take it even as the normal condition of their 
life. Their sin gets to be themselves, and they only 
think as thinking of themselves. Living always in the 
bad element, they think it is only their nature to be as 
they are. Their consciousness is frozen over, so to 
speak, and they see no river underneath, but only the ice 



BY THE CROSS. 121 

that covers it. The motions of sins they do not ob- 
serve, because the standards they have always violated 
are blunted and blurred by custom. They are only 
conscious, it may be, of a certain shyness of God, and 
they come to regard even that as being somehow nat- 
ural. Hence it comes to be a very great point, in the 
recovery of men to God, to unmask them to themselves, 
to uncover the standards and reopen their conscious- 
ness to them ; exactly what is done by Christ and his 
rejected Messiahship, inwardly applied by the Spirit 
of God. The result is conviction of sin ; which is only 
a state of moral self-knowledge revived. Doubtless 
there is a pain in this kind of self-knowledge, but it is 
none the less intelligent on that account. The sense 
of guilt is itself a pain of the mind, just as light is pain 
to a diseased eye ; but light is none the less truly light, 
and guilt is none the less truly intelligent, on that ac- 
count. This returning of guilty conviction is, in fact, 
the dawning, or may be, of an everlasting and complete 
intelligence, in just that highest, moral, side of the na- 
ture, that was going down out of intelligence, into stupor 
and blindness. Is it then a severity in Christ that he is 
counting on a result of his ministry and death, so essen- 
tially great and beneficent? 

2. It is quite evident that such a being as Christ 
could not come into the world and pass through it, and 
out of it, in such a manner, without stirring the pro- 
foundest possible convictions of character. If the 
divine glory and spotless love of God are by him incar- 
nated into the world, the revelation must be one that 

11 



122 CONVICTION OF SIN 

raises a great inward commotion. It should not sur- 
prise us that even the bad spirits were rallied, in that day, 
to a pitch of unwonted disturbance and malign activity, 
much more the bad mind of the race. The great stand- 
ards of holiness, so fatally blurred as rules, will be all 
brought forth again, speaking in the doctrine, shining 
out in the perfect life. Every guilty mind will feel 
itself arraigned, and brought to know itself, that be- 
holds, or looks into the perfect glass of history that 
describes this life. And above all when it is ended by 
such a death, inflicted by a world in wrong, who that 
knows himself to be a man, will not be visited by silent 
pangs, not easy to be stifled. 

3. Christ was a being who perfectly knew the pure 
standards of character and duty, knowing, as well, just 
what sin is in the breach of them, and what man is in the 
sin. He also knows of course, exactly what is neces- 
sary to stir up the guilty consciousness of men ; some- 
times doing it by instruction, sometimes by acts of un- 
wonted patience and beneficence, sometimes by terrible 
rebukes and lifted rods of chastisement, and more than 
once by a divine skill of silence — as when stooping down, 
once and again, he drew mystic figures on the ground ; 
sending out thus one by one, condemned and guilt- 
stricken, the pretentious accusers of the woman; or 
when, scarcely speaking and urging no defense, he so vis- 
ibly shook with concern, the guilty mind of Pilate, by 
the dumb innocence only of his manner. He knew ex- 
actly what to do on all occasions, and with all different 
classes of men, to put the sense of guilt upon them, and 



BY THE CROSS. 123 

we can see ourselves, that he has it for one of the great 
objects of his ministry; even as it was a great expecta- 
tion, in the matter of his death, that all enemies and 
rejecters would discover, in bitter pangs of conviction, 
that, in what they have done upon him, they have only 
let their sin reveal its own madness. Let us turn -now 

4. To the scriptures and gather up some few of the 
tokens that Christ, before his coming, was expected to 
come in this character; and also of the declarations, by 
himself and his followers afterward, that he had, es- 
pecially in his death, accomplished such a result. 

"They shall look on me whom they have pierced," 
says the prophet, " and they shall mourn." Other ex- 
pressions of the prophets correspond. Accordingly 
when the infant Jesus was brought to Simeon, by his 
mother, he said to her, "Behold this child is set for the 
fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign 
which shall be spoken against, that the thoughts of 
many hearts may be revealed." His rejection was to 
reveal the heart of his rejectors. John the Baptist con- 
ceives, in the same manner, that he is coming with 
"the axe" of conviction, to be laid to the root of all 
sin, and "the fan" of separation, to winnow out the 
chaffiness of all pretense, so to unmask the secrecy of 
guilt and place it in the open light of conviction. 

Christ himself also testifies that he has done it, say- 
ing to Nicodemus, " He that belie veth not is condemned 
already, because he hath not believed in the name of 
the only begotten Son of God. And this the condem- 
nation (how deeply shall the sting of it some time pierce 



124 CONVICTION OF SIN 

the heart of my rejecters,) — this is the condemnation, 
" that light is come into the world and men have loved 
darkness rather then light, because their deeds were evil." 
On another occasion, he says, to the same effect, — "If I 
had not come and spoken unto them, they had not 
had sin, but now they have no cloak for their sin;" — 
they see now, by what they reject and hate, precisely 
what they are — "If I had not done among them the 
work which none other man did, they had not had sin, 
but now have they both seen and hated both me and 
my Father ;" intimating clearly that their hatred of him, 
they will sometime see, is, at bottom, a hatred of good- 
ness itself. On still another occasion, he brings out the 
same truth more argumentatively saying — "If God 
were your Father, ye would love me ; for I proceeded 
forth and came from God. He that is of God heareth 
my words, ye therefore hear them not, because ye are 
not of God." Your rejection of me is nothing but an 
exhibition, without, of that rejection of God in which you 
inwardly live. The bitterness of their reply you know. 
Take the trial scene of Jesus next, noting first, the 
bad spirit out of which it comes, and then the guilty 
conviction that follows it. What injury had Christ done 
to Caiphas and the managers of his party, that they 
should be so bitterly exasperated against him? There 
was never a more inoffensive being, save as goodness 
is itself an offense to sin. Hence the violence of their 
animosity ; for no man is so violent and brutish in his 
animosities, as he that is storming against goodness, to 
drown the disturbance, and redress the guilty pangs it 



BY THE CEOSS. 125 

creates in an evil conscience. Hence the barbarous 
insults put upon the Saviour's person. If these great 
people of Jerusalem — high-priests, rabbis, scribes, and 
others — had been a tribe of Osages, or Dyaks, their 
treatment of Jesus would have been exactly in charac- 
ter. The slap in the face, the crown of thorns, the 
mock cries, the scourging, the spitting, the wagging 
of the heads, and the jeer "let him come down," con- 
nected with a visibly conscious disrespect to evidence 
and justice, and with outcries raised to stifle even the 
sense of justice ; the malignity and spite of the punish- 
ment itself, a slave's punishment, a crucifixion put upon 
a man whose dignity and the power of whose words, 
— " speaking as never man spake" — had been a principal 
part of his offense — what does it mean that gentlemen, 
Jewish leaders of the highest standing and culture, are 
found instigating these low barbarities of spite and cru- 
elty ? What has he done to transform civilized men, into 
savages in this manner ? it is the offense of his char- 
acter ! He has raised up demons of remorse in the con- 
science of these men, by the luster simply of his good 
ness. This it is that rankles in their hatred, and hate, 
as against goodness, is a feeling too weak to suffer the 
assumption even of dignity. Hence the simply diabol- 
ical frenzy of their conduct. 

Mark the result. The very moment after Jesus has 
commended his spirit to the Father and ceased to 
breathe, the conviction of crime begins to break through 
the enmity of his cruciflers. Their malignity is discov- 
ered, they could hate a living enemy, but the helpless 

11* 



126 CONVICTION OF SIN 

body of a dead one over-masters their violence. Im- 
mediately the centurion himself glorified God, saying, 
" certainly this was a righteous man." "And all the 
people that came together to that sight, beholding the 
things which were done, smote their breasts and re- 
turned." This is the sign that was "to be spoken 
against," and now "the thoughts of many hearts" 
begin to be "revealed." "They look on him whom 
they have pierced," and they are pierced themselves. 

Next we see the great principle of conviction — "of 
sin because they believe not on me," — beginning to be 
wielded with overwhelming energy, by the apostles. 
This very truth charged home — you have rejected and 
crucified Christ — is the arrow of the day of Pentecost. 
" Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly," 
says Peter in his sermon on that occasion, "that God 
hath made that same Jesus whom ye crucified both Lord 
and Christ — he hath shed forth this which you now see 
and hear. Now when they heard this, they were 
pricked in their heart, and cried — ' Men and brethren, 
what shall we do ?' " 

And the very next sermon of Peter hangs upon the 
same bitter truth of conviction. "Ye denied the Holy 
One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted 
unto you, and killed the Prince of Life, whom God 
hath raised from the dead, whereof we are witnesses." 

And again, in the third sermon of the same apostle, 
he hurls the same arrow. " For of a truth against thy 
holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod 
and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and thy people 



BY THE CROSS. 127 

Israel, were gathered together." — all orders and nations, 
because all alike are sinners — "and now behold their 
threatenings and grant unto thy servants that with all 
boldness they may speak thy word." "Whereupon the 
place is shaken again a third time. Under the first ser- 
mon, three thousand souls have the thoughts of their 
hearts revealed, and turn to seek salvation in Jesus 
Christ. Under the second, the number is swelled to 
five thousand. Under the third, the count ceases and 
the number becomes a multitude — "the multitude of 
them that believed." 

So it was that Peter, in his preaching, charged home 
upon his hearers everywhere the rejecting and denying 
of Jesus the Saviour. 

Paul too was traveling over all seas, and through all 
lands, telling the story of his remarkable conversion — 
how at first he disbelieved and hated the very name of 
Jesus, how he was exceedingly mad against his follow- 
ers, and went about dragging them to prison, till, at 
last, on his way to Damascus, he was met by that word 
of irresistible conviction, which had been so powerful 
many times before — "I am Jesus whom thou perse- 
cutest." what depths were opened now in the perse- 
cutor's heart ! All his bitter wrongs and fiery inflictions 
flame back in that word — "I am Jesus whom thou per- 
secutest !" showing him the madness that reigns within. 
Thus begins the life in Christ of this great apostle — it- 
self an illustration how sublime of the Saviour's thought ! 
" Of sin because they believe not in me." But there is 
a reason — 



128 CONVICTION OF SIN 

5. Back of this great fact, in the scheme of the gos- 
pel, in which it is grounded ; viz., that a very bad act 
often brings out the show of a bad spirit within and 
becomes, in that manner, a most appalling argument of 
conviction. Hence the immense convincing power to 
be exerted on mankind through the crucifixion of Christ 
by his enemies. Even as a profligate, unfilial son, dis- 
covers himself as he is, and receives the true impress- 
ion, for the first time, of his own dire wickedness and 
passion, when he looks upon the murdered form of his 
father, and washes the stains of parricide from his hands. 
In like manner Joseph's brethren, when he stood re- 
vealed before them, as the brother whom they cruelly 
sold, were struck dumb with guilt, and could not so 
much as speak to ask his forgiveness. So also Herod, 
haunted by the sense of his crime in the murder of 
John, imagined, in the wild tumult of his guilty brain, 
that Christ must be the prophet's ghost, returning to be 
avenged of his wrong. 

The death, or public execution of Socrates affords, in 
some respects, a more striking illustration. His pure 
morality of life, his sublime doctrine of virtue, the dis- 
credit reflected on the gods of his country, by his be- 
lief in a supreme, all-perfect God and governor of the 
world, worthy of a better worship, raised up enemies 
and accusers, who indicted him as a corrupter of the 
youth, and a denier of the gods of his country. The 
people, artfully wrought upon, voted his death. Shortly 
after, the dead teacher rose upon them mightier even 
than the living, and a wave of conviction rolling back 



BY THE CROSS. 129 

upon their consciences, filled them with bitter distress. 
They voted his innocence ; they acknowledged the pub- 
lic misfortunes just then coming upon the state to be 
judgments of heaven upon their crime ; they put to 
death Miletus his principal accuser, drove his subordi- 
nates into exile, and erected a brazen statue to his mem- 
ory. So the Saviour says, " of sin because they believe 
not on me;" only the reaction of his cross begins more 
immediately and extends through all the coming ages 
of time. No sooner is he dead, than all the multitude 
present, not his accusers only and his executioners, but 
the lookers on, were pricked with heavy compunctions 
of feeling, and went home smiting their breasts, for an- 
guish they could not repress. And with better reason 
than they can distinctly know ; for it is the Holy one 
and the Just, the Perfect Son of God, whom they have 
seen put to death ; nay worse who has not been permit- 
ted even to die respectably, but has been publicly 
stripped, gibbeted, exposed to shame, compelled to die 
slowly, like a slave, nailed fast upon a cross. He had 
come into the world on a mission of love from the 
world above, a perfect character, clothed in the essential 
glory of a divine nature, a being whom all the right- 
eous spirits — angels, archangels, and seraphim — had 
been wont to magnify and adore — such was the visitant 
who lighted, for once, on the earth and the race of man- 
kind could not suffer him to live, tore him away in 
their spite, from his acts of healing, and his gentle mer- 
cies even to themselves, and thrust him out of the world, 
in mockeries that forgot even the appearance of dignity. 



130 CONVICTION OF SIN 

I have spoken of this act, as the act of the human 
race, and such, in some true sense, it was ; and as such 
has been ringing ever sense in the guilty conscience of 
the race ; for it is, in fact, a proof by experiment, of 
what is in all human hearts. Thus, if there should 
come down from the upper sky some pure dove that 
has his home in that pure element, and the birds of the 
lower air should be heard screaming at all points, and 
seen pitching upon the unwelcome visitant and striking 
their beaks into his body, we should have no doubt of 
some radical unlikeness, or repugnance, between the 
creatures of the two elements. And this exactly is the 
feeling that has been forced upon the world's guilty 
mind, ever since, by the crucifixion of Jesus. It rolls 
back on our thought in a kind of silent horror, that will 
not always be repelled, that the manifested love of God, 
impartial and broad as the world, a grace for every ha 
man creature, is yet gnashed upon by the world and 
crucified. If we say that this act of crucifixion was 
not ours, it certainly was not in the particular sense 
intended, and yet in another and much deeper sense, it 
was ; viz., in the sense that what it signifies was ours. 
It was done by mankind, as Christ was a Saviour for 
mankind, and we are men. It proves for one age all 
that it proves for another ; proves for the lookers on all 
which it proves for the doers. In this manner it is 
yours, it is mine. I think it quite certain, sometimes, 
that I should have had no part it, and it may be that I 
should not. But again I sometimes shudder privately 
over the question, whether if such a being were to come 



BY THE CROSS. 131 

upon the earth now, in my own day, one so peculiar, so 
little subject to the respectabilities and conventionali- 
ties of religion, doing such miracles, becoming an 
offense to so many religious schools and rabbis, charged 
so inevitably with being a wild impostor, I should not 
be quite turned away from him. Perhaps I should not 
join his erucifiers, but should I not as truly reject him 
as they ? shame to say it, but it fills me with pain, 
or even with a kind of horror, to conceive the possibil- 
ity. Were not his enemies religious men in their habit, 
serious, thoughtful men, exact in the observances of 
their religion, many of them even sanctimonious in 
their lives? Had they not religious pretexts for all 
that they did? At any rate they had human hearts, 
and so have you and I. And will not what they show 
for their own heart, be as good a proof for us ? So felt 
the multitude of spectators, and the feeling of the world 
has been the same. 

Lastly there is another and more direct kind of argu- 
ment, that I mean which we get from our own con- 
sciousness. I think I may assert, with confidence, that 
there is no man living, who is not made conscious, at 
times, of sin, as in no other manner, by the simple fact 
of his own rejection of Christ. Nor does it make any 
great difference, if his belief appears to be hindered by 
speculative difficulties. He may imagine, or distinctly 
maintain, that he rejects, or does not believe, on the 
ground of sufficient evidence. Still Christ is Christ, 
and the cross is the cross, and he can not so much as 
think of himself, before the merely conceived image of 



132 CONVICTION OF SIN 

a goodness so divine — be it really historic or not — with- 
out a feeling of disturbance, in the not cleaving to the 
profound reality of the truth discovered in him. ISTo 
matter what may be reasoned by infidels and Christian 
speculatists about, against, or for, the historic person of 
Christ; if he is a fiction only, or a myth, a romance 
of character gotten up by three or four of the most un- 
romantic writers of the world, still he is the greatest, 
solidest, most real, truth ever known to man. The 
mere conception of such a life and character is inhe- 
rently eternal — more indestructible, and so far more real 
than a mountain of rock. It affirms itself eternally as 
light, by its own self-evidence, and the soul of guilt 
trembles inwardly before it — trembles even the more 
certainly that it is a good approved, but not welcomed, 
or embraced. Enough that the Christ of the New Tes- 
tament is the want, consciously or unconsciously, of 
every human heart, and that aching secretly for him, it 
aches the more that it has him not, and still the more 
that it will not have him. Who of you could ever 
think of him rejected without a pang? 

But the most of you are troubled by no such specu- 
lative doubts ; you are only selfish and earthly, want 
your pleasures, want other objects more, that must be 
renounced to receive him — meaning still, at some time, 
to do it, and become his disciples. Living in this 
feeble and consciously false key, your courage wavers, 
and self-rebuking thoughts are, ever and anon, making 
their troublesome irruptions upon you. When the 
Saviour says — " Of sin because they believe not on 



BY THE CROSS. 133 

me," the very words sharpen guilty pangs in your bo- 
som. Sometimes the question rises, distinctly why is it, 
that beholding this love, I still do not embrace it? 
why do I so profoundly admire this wonderful excel- 
lence and still suppress the longings I so consciously 
feel ? And then the goodness rejected becomes a fire of 
Hinnom in your uneasy convictions. It is not any par- 
ticular sins that trouble you thus ; consciously it is sin — 
nothing else explains you to yourself. The conviction 
of it runs quivering along your feeling in sharp pangs 
of remorse, and you half expect to hear — "I am Jesus 
of Nazareth whom thou rejectest." Even his tenderest 
„ call comes to you, more as an arrow, than as a balm, 
and your heart is inwardly stung, pricked through and 
through, with the rankle of thoughts that are being 
revealed. How many have passed, or now are passing 
through just this struggle of experience. To many too 
it will have been, I trust, the gate of heaven. 

But I must not close my argument on this great subject, 
without noting a common objection ; viz., that all such 
phases of mental disturbance called conviction of sin, 
in the New Testament, are too weak for respect, and 
should not be indulged, even if they are felt. But 
if they are according to truth, if they are so far intelli- 
gent as to be modes of sensibility accurately squared 
by the fact of character within, then they are only a 
kind of weakness that is stronger to be allowed than 
stifled. They are however, in some sense, moods of 
weakness I must still admit ; for they belong to sin and 
sin itself is weak. Nothing in fact is weaker. Cour- 

12 



134 CONVICTION OF SIN 

age, repose, equilibrium, strength of will, firmness of 
confidence — all these receive a shock under sin, and 
are more or less fatally broken. Were not all those 
Athenians weak who wept the death of Socrates, when 
they saw his place made vacant by themselves ? But 
that weakness it was even honorable to suffer, because 
it was the very best thing left, after they had been 
weak enough to vote his death. So, when the Son of 
God is crucified and expelled to be seen no more, not 
the spectators only of the scene, but all we that pierced 
him by our sin were to be visited with guilty, soul- 
humbling pains in like manner — how much more that 
he is gone up visibly, as the wonderful Greek was 
not, to be stated in the eternal majesty of righteousness 
and judgment. All sin is weak, and the convincing 
cross must needs bring out the revelation of weakness, 
even as it did at the first. "When the marshal's band, 
sent out to make the arrest, were shaken out of courage 
and strength enough even to stand, they fitly opened the 
scene that followed, by their backward fall and prostra- 
tion. Was not Peter weak when he wept bitterly? 
Was not Judas weak when he cast down the money for 
which he sold him ? Were not the priests and elders 
weak when they said "he stirreth up the people?" 
Was not Pilate weak when he was "the more afraid?" 
Were not the multitude when they went home smiting 
their breasts? Nay, were not the rocks themselves 
weak when they shook, and the tomb when it opened, 
and the stone when it rolled back ? 0, it was a mighty 
judgment day, that day of the cross; token visible, to 



BY THE CKOSS. 135 

you and to me, of that other, higher, judgment which 
our righteous Lord has gone up to assume ! Hence the 
distress which rises in so many, hearts before the cross, 
and which some can think of only with disrespect. 
Could they learn to disrespect the sin that makes it 
necessary, they might even honor it rather, as the sign, 
or beginning, of a return to righteousness and reason. 

In what manner Christ was to convince of sin we 
have now seen, and no farther argument appears to be 
needed. But the subject can not be fitly concluded 
without noting a remarkable effect that has followed 
the cross as a convincing power on the world ; viz., the 
fact that, in what is called Chistendom, there has been 
a manifest uplifting of the moral standards, and a corre- 
spondent quickening of the moral sensibilities, both 
of individual men, and of whole races and people. In 
the people of the old dispensation and of the great 
Pagan empires long ago converted to the cross, moral 
ideas have now taken the place, to a great extent, of 
force ; the coarse blank apathy of sin is broken up ; 
the sense of duty is more piercing ; and it is even as if 
a new conscience had been given respecting the soul in 
its relations to God. It is as if men had seen their 
state of sin glassed before them, and made visible in 
the rejection of Christ and his cross. Jews and Pagans 
had before been made conscious at times of particular 
sins; we are made conscious, in a deeper and more 
appalling way, of the state of sin itself, the damning 
evil that infects our humanity at the root — that which 



136 CONVICTION OF SIN 

rejected and crucified the Son of God, and is in fact, 
the general madness and lost condition of the race. 
Thus, immediately after the departure of Christ from 
the world, that is on the day of Pentecost, there broke 
out a new demonstration of sensibility to sin, such as 
was never before seen. In the days of the law, men had 
their visitations of guilt and remorse, respecting this or 
that wrong act ; but I do not recollect even under the 
prophets, those great preachers of the law, and sharpest 
and most terrible sifters of transgression, a single in- 
stance, where a soul is so broken, or distressed, by the 
conviction of its own bad state under sin, as to ask 
what it must do to be saved — the very thing which 
many thousands did, on the day of Pentecost, and in the 
weeks that followed, and have been doing even till 
now. So different a matter is it to have rules in a 
book, or rules in the conscience, from having them 
bodied into power, through a person, or personal char- 
acter ; that character, hated; persecuted, murdered, by 
the public will and voice; that murdered one rising 
again to be glorified in the triumphant righteousness, 
of his life ; that righteousness, after having cast down 
principalities and powers, installed in the judgment 
bench of the world. Hence an amazing accession of 
strength, in the moral standards and convictions of all 
Christian peoples. It is all from the cross ; which has 
raised the sense of guilt in human bosoms to such a pitch, 
that even strong men weep, and groan, and tremble for 
their sin. Every sensibility that lies about the standards 
of the soul, and its fallen possibilities in defection from 



BY THE CROSS. 137 

them, is amazingly quickened. And it is just this to 
which the apostle refers, when speaking to the Hebrews 
of " the word of Grod " — he means the new word of Chris- 
tianity, that which we have now, and not the old word 
of the law — "For the word of Grod, is quick and 
powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing 
even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the 
joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and 
intents of the heart." Having this penetrating and con- 
vincing efficacy, ' the word of the cross is capable of a 
most faithful and deep work in the character ; no gospel 
therefore of temporizing mercy, and slight healing, but 
a downright, thorough-going, radical, life-renewing 
energy — a power of Grod unto salvation. It bends to no 
false principle, deals in no mock sentiment, hides no 
point of exactness, spares no necessary pain. It applies 
to sin a surgery deep as the malady, it cuts the cancer 
clean out by conviction, that a genuine, true healing 
may follow. Just so much worthier is it of our confi- 
dence and respect. And what shall we do but open 
our heart to it, counting it even good to be condemned 
before a salvation so thorough, so deeply grounded in 
the unsparing severities of truth. But this condemna- 
tion, these unsparing severities, it behooves us to re- 
member, will be not less piercing, when they cease to 
come in the hopeful guise of a salvation. Doubtless 
Christ rejected, will have a convincing power always, 
even in the future life. Moral ideas and standards will 
be raised, and moral sensibilities quickened still by the 
cross remembered. And the pangs of guilt will of 

12* 



138 CONVICTION OF SIN, ETC. 

course be sharpened still farther, by the barren regrets 
and the hopeless future of that undone state. O, that 
desert of guilt — to one that has journeyed long ages in 
its fiery and thirsty sands, how dreadful the words of 
the rejected Saviour still ringing and forever in his 

memory. "OF SIN BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE NOT 
ON ME" 



VII. 

CHRIST ASLEEP. 

11 And behold there arose a great tempest in the sea, inso- 
much that the ship was covered with the ivaves : but he was 
asleep. 11 — Matt., viii. 24. 

Christ asleep — the eternal "Word of the Father, incar- 
nate, lapped in the soft oblivion of unconsciousness — a 
very strange fact, when deeply enough pondered to 
reveal its significant and even singular implications. 

Where then do we go to look upon so great a sight, 
the sleep of Grod r s Messiah? Is he royally bestowed 
in some retired hall, or chamber of his palace ? Is he 
curtained about and canopied over on his bed of down, as 
one retiring into the deepest folds of luxury, there to 
woo the delicate approach of sleep ? Must no doors be 
swinging, no feet of attendants stirring in the halls? 
Are the windows carefully shaded, lest some ray of 
moonlight streaming in may break the tender spell of 
the sleeper ? No, it is not so that Jesus sleeps, or with 
any such delicate provisions of luxury to smooth his 
rest ; but he is out upon the Grennessaret, in some little 
craft that his disciples have picked up for the crossing, 
and upon the short space of flooring, or deck, in the 
hinder part, he sinks, overcome with exhaustion, and is 



140 CHKIST ASLEEP. 

buried shortly in the deepest, soundest sleep. The 
open sky is over him, the boat swings drowsily among 
the waves, and the boatmen, talking over the miracles 
of the day, and all they have seen and heard, under 
the wonderful new ministry, continue on, as we may 
suppose, till by degrees the conversation lulls, the 
replies become slow and sepulchral, as if coming from 
afar, and finally cease. Meantime Jesus sleeps, fanned 
by the gentle breath of the night, rocked by the bab- 
bling waters, watched by the stars, that brighten seem- 
ingly to a finer purity, reflected from the sleeper's 
dreams. 

By and by a change appears. A dark and ominous 
cloud, sailing up, shuts in the sky. The lightnings be- 
gin to fall, crashing on the head of Gerizim and Tabor, 
and very soon the tempest that was booming heavily 
in the distance, strikes the little skiff, dashing the waves 
across, and filling instantly the forward part with water. 
The little company are thrown, as it would seem, into 
the greatest panic and confusion, unable to manage the 
sinking vessel, and only mixing their cries of distress 
with the general tumult of the storm. Still Jesus 
sleeps, folded in that deep self-oblivion which no rage 
of the elements can disturb. " And behold there arose 
a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was 
covered with the waves : but he was asleep." Even so, 
no wildest tumult without can reach the inward compo- 
sure of his rest. The rain beating on his face, and the 
spray driving across it, and the sharp gleams of the 
lightning, and the crash of the thunder, and the roar of 



CHEIST ASLEEP. 141 

the storm, and the screams of the men — not all of these 
can shake him far enough inward, to reach the center 
where sleep lodges and waken him to consciousness. It 
is as if both consciousness and soul were gone — gone 
up in holy dream, to bask in the divine peace, breath- 
ing airs of music, and wandering along the rivers of 
paradise, where aDgels moor their boats and watch the 
currents of eternity. Finally some one touches him 
gently and says, "Master;" whereupon he is roused 
instantly ; for it is a tender word, spoken, too, distress- 
fully, in a manner of appeal, and there is no softest call 
of compassion that is not louder in his ear than either 
tempest or thunder. So his sleep is ended, and the 
storm, in turn, is laid in a deeper sleep than he. 

The sleeping of Jesus I believe is mentioned nowhere 
else in the gospels, and I do not recollect ever to have 
heard the subject presented as a topic of discourse, or 
even distinctly noticed — an omission the more remark- 
able that the theologic implications of the fact appear 
to be. so important. 

Sleep is a shadow that falls on the soul, as well as on 
the body. It is such a kind of state, or affection, as 
makes even the mind, or intelligent principle, uncon- 
scious. What could be more in point, then, for the 
speculative humanitarian, than to call this fact to his 
aid, by raising the question, what can be made of the 
sleep of Jesus, on the supposition that he is divine? 
Does sleep attack divinity ? How can it be conceived 
that deity, or a nature essentially deific, sleeps, falling 



142 CHKIST ASLEEP. 

into the condition of unconsciousness ? And then what 
next should follow, in the common way, but that such 
as think to maintain the divinity of Christ, only as they 
are able to explain it, will make answer, that it is the 
human nature of Jesus that sleeps and not the divine — 
giving up thus, for the time, the fact of the incarnation 
itself; which, if it is any thing, is the absolute unity 
of the divine and the human in one person. 

It would carry me too far, to go into these questions 
here, taking me, in fact, quite away from my subject. 
I most readily admit that Jesus, being essentially a 
divine person, can not, in good logic, sleep; and just as 
certain it is that, if we proceed logically, he can not, as 
having a deific nature, be a man. And yet he both slept 
and was a man. As being God incarnate, the Word 
made flesh, the infinite in the finite, he is logically impos- 
sible. But God has a way of doing the impossible. In 
the communication of himself to men, he tears away the 
logical carpentry, refusing to put his glory into it. The 
truth is that our laws of thinking are totally at fault, in 
regard to subjects of this nature, speculatively handled. 
All that we can say of the personality of Jesus is that 
he is a being in our plane, and yet not in it — in it as a 
practical approach of God, not in it as being logically 
resolvable by our scientific, or speculative deductions. 
The very thing proposed in the person of Jesus is to 
make an approach transcending any possible explication 
by us ; viz., to humanize divinity ; that by means of a 
nature, fellow to our own, he may bring himself within 
our range, and meet our feeling by a feeling formally hu- 



CHEIST ASLEEP. 143 

manized in himself. And in order to this, there must be 
no doubt of his humanity; he must not be simply 
templed in a human body, but he must make his hu- 
manity complete by that last, most convincing evidence, 
the fact of sleep. If he were exhaustible only, or 
weak, or frail, as other men are known to be, but were 
never to sleep, we could scarcely feel that he is one of 
us; but beholding his intelligence close up, his con- 
sciousness fall away, and his prostrate body palpitating 
in deep slumber, we no longer question his humanity. 
Call Him the Word incarnate, the Son of God, God 
manifest : still he is none the less truly man to us, now 
that we find him asleep. No matter if we can not ex- 
plain the mystery, or seeming contradiction, as we cer- 
tainly can not. To say that only the human soul sleeps, 
explains nothing, and it signifies nothing more to us, if 
it does, than the sleep of any other human soul. To 
say that he is only human, is against the plainest de- 
clarations of scripture, and against all that we know of 
his more than mortal bearing, or character. All that 
we can do here is to confess that the' incarnate Word is 
somehow man, even one of ourselves, receiving and em- 
bracing in him the eternal love, and fellowship, and full- 
ness of God. 

There is then a very .great spiritual importance, in 
the fact that Jesus sleeps. In it we behold the divine 
humanity sealed or set in complete evidence. Divine 
he must be, for his character is deifically spotless and 
perfect ; human he must be for he sleeps like a man. 



144 CHRIST ASLEEP. 

this Great Benefactor and World's Eedeemer in his 
sleep ! just to look upon him here, in this strange hour — 
the rain and the spray drenching his body, his hair and 
pillow of plank washed by the driving storm, his calm 
benignant face lighted by the glittering flashes that set 
the night ablaze — thus to gaze upon him, king of angels 
and men, descended to this mortal plight — how very nigh 
does it draw us to his humbled state, how closely, 
and by what easy ties of sympathy, knit us to his 
person ! 

And yet more nigh, by a sympathy more tender, 
when we go over the count of what he had been doing 
yesterday, and see how it was that he fell into a sleep so 
profound. The warrior sleeps returning spattered and 
spent from the bloody horrors of the field ; the devotee 
of pleasure sleeps, because he has drunk the cup dry 
and would fain forget himself; one hasting to be rich, 
exhausted and spent by his overmastering cares, and 
the strain of his mighty passion, sleeps a hurried sleep, 
fevered by his price-current dreams ; the hireling sleeps 
on his wages, gathering strength for the wages of to- 
morrow ; Jesus sleeps, because he has emptied the fund 
of his compassions and poured himself completely out 
in works of mercy to the sick and the poor. His giv- 
ing way to sleep is well accounted for, when we find 
him engaged the whole day previous, in works of teach- 
ing, advice, counsel, sympathy, consolation, healing, 
and rebuke, such as kept him in a constant expenditure 
of feeling and strain of attention, that no mortal 
strength could support. According to Matthew he 



CHRIST ASLEEP. 145 

heals the centurion's servant, and Peter's wife's mother, 
and continues at his work of healing, thronged by mul- 
titudes pouring in upon him, even till night. On the 
same day, according to Mark, he appears to have given 
the parable of the sower, and that of a candle hid under 
a bushel, and that of the earth as a harvest field sown 
by the owner, and that of the grain of mustard seed, 
with a discourse on hearing, and a private exposition 
of his parables to his own immediate disciples. It is 
also understood by some, combining what is given in the 
sixth chapter of Luke, and the third of Mark, that he was 
awake the whole night previous to this day, engaged in 
prayer ; that he chose the twelve at day -break, and that 
coming down from the mountain, he was so thronged, at 
that early hour, that he could not so much as eat bread, 
and came near being trampled by the crowd ; whereupon 
his friends laid hold of him to bring him off, declaring 
that he was beside himself; his mother and breth- 
ren also came to expostulate' with him. However 
this may have been, it is at least clear that every 
moment of his day is a draft upon his physical re- 
sources, and the multitude are growing more clamor- 
ous for attention as their number increases, till finally, 
unable to bear the strain longer, he flies what he can 
not support. ' It even appears to be intimated by Mat- 
thew, that he was obliged to effect his escape, by has- 
tening on board a vessel that lay near the place — " Now 
when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave 
commandment to depart to the other side." The great- 
ness of the multitude, and their pressing applications 

13 



146 CHRIST ASLEEP. 

were rather a reason why he should stay, than why he 
should try to escape. They were only not a reason, 
when he was just ready to sink for exhaustion. Accord- 
ingly we see that, no sooner is he entered into the boat 
and cleared from the shore, than he drops on the deck 
of the skiff, apparently not minding the hunger of a 
whole day's toil unrespited, perhaps, by food, and is 
buried immediately in a slumber so profound that not 
even the hurricane wakes him. 

In this sleep of Jesus therefore, as related to the 
works of the day, a very great mistake, into which we 
are apt to fall, is corrected or prevented ; the mistake, 
I mean, of silently assuming that Christ, being divine, 
takes nothing as we do, and is really not under our hu- 
man conditions far enough to suffer exhaustions of 
nature by work or by feeling, by hunger, the want of 
sleep, dejections, or recoils of wounded sensibility. Able 
to do even miracles — to heal the sick, or cure the blind, 
or raise the dead, or still the sea — we fall into the im- 
pression that his works really cost him nothing, and 
that while his lot appears to be outwardly dejected, he 
has, in fact, an easy time of it. Exactly contrary to 
this, he feels it, even when virtue goes out only from 
the hem of his garment. And when he gives the word 
of healing, it is a draft, we know not how great, upon 
his powers. In the same way every' sympathy requires 
an expenditure of strength proportioned to the measure 
of that sympathy. Every sort of tension, or attention, 
every argument, teaching, restraint of patience, concern 
of charity, is a putting forth with cost to him, as it is to 



CHRIST ASLEEP. 147 

us. And yet we somehow do not quite believe it. We 
read that he goes long journeys on foot, but we do not 
conceive that he is weary and foot-sore as we might be. 
We read that he is actually " wearied with his journey," 
and sits him down by a well, while his disciples go into 
the town to obtain food, but we do not seem to think 
that he is really way-worn, or faint with hunger, in the 
proper human sense of these terms. "We read that he 
actually " hungered," and that having no table, or sup- 
ply, he went aside to explore a fig tree, and break his 
morning fast on the fruit, but we do not think that such 
a being as he could really care much for a breakfast 
any way. He declares his poverty and his outcast lot 
on earth, by protesting that he has not so much as a 
place for comfortable and protected sleep — "the Son 
of Man hath not where to lay his head" — but we think 
of him probably as meaning only to say, that he has 
no property; never as testifying his privation of com- 
fort in this first article of civilized bestowment, a shel- 
tered, in-door sleep — obliged, like the dumb animals, to 
sleep where he may ; in the mountains, on the rocks, 
sometimes under the night rains, shivering often with 
cold. 

Now all such miscolorings of his human experience 
take him, so far, out of our tier of life, and slacken pro- 
portionally our sympathy with him. And they are 
beautifully corrected in the night of the boat. Jesus 
had become so exhausted that he could not, in fact, sup- 
port himself an hour longer, and dropped immediately 
down, mind and body together, into the profoundest 



148 CHRIST ASLEEP. 

sleep. Is it really no true sleep, but only a divine seem- 
ing? Is lie conscious in it? Does he hear the storm ? 
does he feel the rain ? does the plunging of the boat 
startle him ? Ah ! there is reality enough here to make 
a_ sight how affecting. 

Blessed be thy rough sleep, thou great benefactor ! 
thou that art wearied and spent by thy particular 
works and the virtues that have gone out of thee ! 
What is it now to thee, that the waters drench thee, and 
the fierce tempest howls in tumult round thee ! Sleep 
on exhausted goodness, take thy rest in the bosom of 
the storm ! for it is thy Father's bosom, where they that 
are weary for works of love, may safely trust, and sink 
so deeply down into the abysses of sleep, that no thun- 
der even may rouse them. 

Notice more particularly also the conditions, or be- 
stowments of the sleep of Jesus, and especially their 
correspondence with his redemptive undertaking. Say- 
ing nothing of infants, which in a certain proper sense 
are called innocent, there have been two examples of 
full grown innocent sleep in our world ; that of Adam 
in the garden, and that of Christ the second Adam, 
whose nights overtook him, with no place where to be- 
stow himself. And the sleep of both, different as pos- 
sible in the manner, is yet most exactly appropriate, in 
each, to his particular work and office. One is laid to 
sleep in a paradise of beauty, breathed upon by the 
flowers, lulled by the music of birds and running 
brooks, shaded and sheltered by the overhanging trees, 
shortly to wake and look upon a kindred nature stand- 



. CHRIST ASLEEP. 149 

ing by, offered him to be the partner and second life of 
his life. The other, as pure and spotless as he, and 
ripe, as he is not, in the unassailable righteousness of 
character, tears himself awav from clamorous multi- 
tuxles that crowd upon him suing piteously for his care, 
and drops, even out of miracle itself, on the hard plank 
deck, or bottom, of a fisherman's boat, and there, in 
lightning and thunder and tempest, sheeted, as it were, 
in the general wrath of the waters and the air, he 
sleeps — only to wake at the supplicating touch of fear 
and distress. One is the sleep of the world's father, 
the other that of the world's Eedeemer. One has never 
known as yet the way of sin, the other has come into 
the tainted blood and ruin of it. to bear and suffer un- 
der it, and drink the cup it mixes ; so to still the storm 
and be a reconciling peace. Both sleep in character. 
"Were the question raised which of the two will be cru- 
cified we should have no ' doubt. Visibly the toil-worn 
Jesus, he that takes the storm, curtained in by it as by 
the curse — he is the Eedeemer. His sleep agrees with 
his manger birth, his poverty, his agony, his cross, and 
what is more, as the curse that is maddening in his ene- 
mies is the retributive disorder of God's just penalty 
following their sin, so the fury of that night shadows it 
all the more fitly, that what he encounters in it is the 
wrathful cast of Providence. 

How fitting was it also, both that sleep should be 
one of the appointments of our nature, and that 
Christ should be joined to us in it. These rounds 
of sleep are rounds, in fact, of bodily regeneration, 

13* 



150 CHRIST ASLEEP. 

and there is no better possible type of the regene- 
ration of a soul, than the recreating of a body, in the 
article of sleep. It was spent by labor. All the func- 
tions were subsiding unto weakness. The pulse ran 
low and slow, the gait was loose, life itself -was ebbing 
consciously, and a general ferment of disability was, in 
every faculty, from the brain downward. The man 
said he was tired, and alas! he could do nothing in 
himself to mend his condition. No surgeon's or physi- 
cian's art could put him up again equipped for action. 
But the silent new-creator, sleep, could do it. Taking 
down the spent subject of consciousness into his awful 
abyss of nihility and dark un-reason, he will decom- 
pose him, so to speak, and put him together again, all 
lubricated for new play, and send him forth to his old 
works, as it were with a new nature. We are made 
familiar thus with great internal changes and mighty 
new-creations, wrought by mystic powers, whose methods 
we can not trace. And Christ the great moral Ee- 
generator goes the same rounds with us here ; suffers 
the same exhaustion, sinks into the same unconscious- 
ness, rising to the same newness of life — himself regene- 
rated bodily with us, as he fitly should be. 

But as I have spoken of the sleep, I must also speak 
of the waking ; or at least I must so far note t^ie man- 
ner of it, as to draw from it some deeper and more fit 
conception of the internal state of the sleep. It is a 
matter of common remark that one who goes to his 
night's rest charged with a purpose to rise at some 
given signal, or at some fixed hour, will catch the faint- 



CHRIST ASLEEP. 151 

est notification, and will almost notify himself, by a 
kind of instinctive judgment, or sense of time kept 
ready for the spring, even in his unconscious state. So 
Christ, whose love is ready, and full-charged to catch 
the faintest note of human distress, sleeps on through 
all the commotion of the elements, undisturbed; but the 
first cry of panic, "Lord save us, or we perish" — 
louder to him than all the tumult of the sky and the 
waters — strikes his inward ear and brings him straight- 
way to his feet. " Then he arose and rebuked the sea, 
and there was a great calm." The tempest met his sov- 
ereign look and fell abashed before him ; type sublime 
of the diviner and more difficult calm that he will bring 
to the storms of the mind. "What manner of man," 
said they, " is this, that even the winds and the sea obey 
him?" A far more wonderful and greater, that he can 
speak to man's guilty feeling, and the turbulent storms 
of his remorse, and calm even these into peace. 

But observe specially his manner when he wakes. 
It is as if the great commotion round him had been 
only a hymn lulling his slumber. He is not flurried or 
startled by the tumult, shows no sign of confusion, or 
alarm. If he sleeps, a man, he wakes, a God. You 
can almost see by his waking, that his dreams have 
been thoughts pure and mighty, coasting round the 
horrors of a guilty wrath-stricken world on errands of 
love and peace. Indeed if it has ever occurred to you 
»to wish that you could once look in upon the sleep of 
Jesus, and distinguish accurately the dream-state of his 
thought, even this you may sufficiently guess from the 



152 CHKIST ASLEEP. 

manner of his waking. How majestic the tranquillity 
of it. The tempest roaring, the men screaming, the 
vessel just ready to go under — and yet, if his waking 
were the sunrise, it would not be less disturbed, or less 
flurried by excitement. Could any thing make it more 
certain that his sleeping mind has been flowing serenely, 
steadied and evened by a mighty peace. Internal pu- 
rity, order, and harmony have been the paradise plainly 
of his rest. In all the wild confusion of the night and 
the sea without, his self- approving mind has' been sleep- 
ing, as it were, in a chiming of sweet melodies. 
Thoughts vast, mysterious, merciful and holy, have 
been coursing through his unconscious humanity, as 
recollections, or recurrences of habit, from his august 
and supremely good eternity ; so that when he wakes, 
at the cry of his disciples, it is only to say, " peace," to 
the raging elements, from that transcendent peace that 
was bathing his spirit within. It was no such waking 
as the bad and guilty mind, haunted all night by spec- 
tres, pursued by murderers, dropping into pitfalls, 
throttled by serpents round the neck, crushed by 
weights on the breast, scared by night-mare shapes in 
the air — it was out of no such element of guilt, or dys- 
peptic torment that Jesus waked. A sleep thus exer- 
cised prepares to fear and the wildness of panic — if the 
house be on fire, to leap into the fire, if the ship be 
sinking, to leap into the waters. A good pure mind 
sleeps goodness and purity, and wakes in peace ; a bad 
sleeps painfully, conversing with internal horrors, 
ready, when it wakes, to meet the images it has seen. 



CHRIST ASLEEP. 153 

Probably the sleep of a holy mind is even more des- 
tinct from that of a bad, than its waking state is, be- 
cause, in sleep, the thoughts run just as the internal 
habit makes them ; the superintending will-power 
that musters, and drills, and artificially shapes them, 
when awake, being now suspended. Hence the pro- 
found philosophy as well as the beauty of the poet's 
prayer — 

"Be thine the sleep that throws 
Elysium o'er the soul's repose, 
Without a dream, save such as wind, 
Like midnight angels, through the mind." 

I am fully conscious, my friends, that I have been 
discoursing on this matter of the sleep of Christ, in a 
somewhat random way ; for it is a specially intangible, 
unexplorable subject. Not an unimportant subject 
either in its theological implications, or its practical re- 
lations to our Christian life, but one whose value does 
not so much depend on our definite interior knowledge 
of it, as in the external and evident fact. It does not 
definitely, or conclusively teach, but it suggests many 
things, and things only suggested are often of as great 
consequence to us as things proved. Let us note a few 
of the points suggested. And 

1. The possible, or rather actual redemption of sleep. 
Sleep is just as truly fallen as humanity itself. And 
who that knows the sleeping thoughts of man, as they 
are, can have any doubt of it ? Xay, who that knows 
the waking thoughts of man, as they are, can be at all 
ignorant how they will run when he sleeps? Gnawed 



154 CHRIST ASLEEP. 

by care, racked by ambition, bittered by the gall of 
envy, sensual, selfish, fearful, hateful, a prey to bad re- 
sentments, loaded and clogged by excesses, filled with 
hypocondriac terrors from nerves that are shattered by 
abuse, what can he be, in his sleep, but a faithful repre- 
sentative of what he is awake ? And hence it is even 
one of the saddest known facts of the world, that it 
sleeps badly — one of the most grateful and most touch- 
ing facts of the world, that Christ will even be the Re- 
deemer of sleep. He does not of course offer himself 
to the state of sleep, for it would only be absurd ; but 
he does undertake the regeneration of the soul in char- 
acter, and that includes every thing ; for when the soul's 
fearful stricture is taken off by love, when it is rested 
in faith, fortified by self-government, cleared by tem- 
perance and spiritual chastity, cheered by hope, it falls 
into chime, inevitably, with the divine order ; so that, 
when the will is suspended, as in sleep, its internal 
movement flows on still in the divine order, meeting 
only grateful images and thoughts of peace. Hence 
partly it was that so much was made of their dreams, 
by holy men of old. It was no superstition of theirs — 
they had only come, so consciously, into the divine 
order of health and sanctity, that when they went to 
their sleep, they seemed even to be yielding themselves 
up to a sanctified flow of the mind, and to the unob- 
structed sway of a really harmonic movement with 
Grod. Nor is any thing more certain than that souls, 
advancing in holiness, will advance proportionally in 
the quality of their sleep. As they are being redeemed 



CHRIST ASLEEP. 155 

themselves, so it is a part of their diyine privilege that 
their sleep is also. Accordingly it is often reported by 
such as have cleared the bondage of nature, and risen 
to a specially high pitch of intimacy with God, that 
they find a remarkable change in their sleeping thoughts. 
None but Christ can sleep the sleep of Christ, and they 
that are nearest to him in spirit will as certainly be most 
like him, in the peace of their unconscious hours. Their 
very redemption is, according to its measure, the re- 
demption of their sleep. 

2. It is another point suggested here, that there is a 
right and wrong sleep, as well as a right and wrong 
waking state. Sleep is the subsiding of soul and body 
into nature's lap, or the lap of Providence, to recruit 
exhaustion, and to be refitted for life's works. But 
what right has any one to be refitted for wrong ; and 
above all refitted, by the help of Providence? Such 
sleep is a fraud, and the fund of new exertion obtained 
by it is actually stolen. Sleep was never appointed by 
God, to refit wrong-doers and disobedient children, and 
enable them to be more efficient against Him. Their 
very sleep they go to, therefore, as a crime, and the 
dark shadow of guilt curtains in their rest. O ye days- 
men, that a few hours hence, when your fund is spent, 
will go to your sleep to be refitted for to-morrow, is it 
to be a lying down upon wrong, upon sin, or will it be 
upon right — there is a very serious meaning in the ques- 
tion. Will you suffer it to rise and be distinctly met, 
when your head meets your pillow ? How very hard a pil- 
low would it be to many, if they took it understandingly ! 



156 CHRIST ASLEEP. 

Observe, meantime, how free a guarantee Christ gives 
to sleep, when it is right sleep. There have been mul- 
titudes of devotees under the Christian name, that made 
a great merit of withholding sleep, in the rigid observ- 
ance of long vigils; as if the reduction of the soul's 
quantity, and the obfuscation of its functions, were the 
same thing to God as advancing in holiness. These 
vigils are about the most irrational, most barren kind 
of fast, that was ever invented ; for the reason that, 
instead of clearing, or girding up the mind, they even 
propose to make a penance of stupor and lethargy. It 
is a great mistake also of some that they are jealous of 
sleep, and have it as a point of merit to shorten the 
hours, by a regularly enforced anticipation of the dawn. 
Any such rule for the reduction of quantity is doubtful. 
A much better rule respects the quality. Make it your 
duty to prepare a Christian sleep ; that kind which the 
exhaustion of a righteous, or right minded industry 
requires, and then you may know that Christ your mas- 
ter is with you. It is remarkable that he actually tore 
himself away from even his healings, and from vast mul- 
titudes of people crying piteously for help. He did not 
reason as some very good men often do, that he must 
go on, pressed by such calls of mercy, till he could 
stand no longer. He was famished with hunger, his 
strength was gone, and enough, to him, was enough. 
What merit could it be, if he should continue into the 
night, and falling at last on the ground for faintness, be 
carried off in that weak plight, to be himself commise- 
rated in turn ? He plucked himself away, therefore, fled 



CHRIST ASLEEP. 157 

to the boat, and casting himself down, fell, at once, into 
the soundest sleep. So when a man's capacity, full 
spent in good, comes to its limit, and conscience audits 
the reckoning of its hours, to fall back into (rod's sole 
keeping, and be recruited by unconscious rest in his 
bosom, is the true Christly sleep, at once a natural be- 
stowment, and a supernatural gift. Be it in a palace or 
a hovel, be it on the land or on the sea, be it in out- 
ward calm or storm, be it with man's approbation or 
without, the resting place is glorious, the rest itself a 
baptism of peace — " God giveth his beloved sleep." 

3. The associations connected with the sleep of Jesus 
induce a very peculiar sense of his nearness to us in it. 
Only to have slept in some fisherman's hut, or about 
some hunter's fire, in company with a noted or publicly 
known person, gives a certain familiar kind of pleasure 
to our remembrance of him. In the same way, when the 
Son of God is joined to us here in a common sleep, sub- 
siding nightly into unconsciousness with us, under the 
same heaven, a most strange association of nearness is 
awakened by the conjunction. In our very proper en- 
deavor to exalt God, and give him the due honors of 
majesty, we commonly push him away, just so far, into 
distance ; we seat him on the circle of the firmament, 
we lift him, not above the clouds only, but even above 
the stars; scarcely content, till we have found some 
altitude for Him, higher than all points visible, and 
even outside of the creation itself. When, therefore he 
comes down, as the incarnate One, to be a man with us, 
tired and spent as we by life's toils, when he lies so 

14 



158 CHRIST ASLEEP. 

humbly down that even the waters of a lake some hun- 
dreds of feet below sea level, dash over him, and there 
sleeps, even as a soldier, or a sailor might, our feeling is 
in a strange maze of tenderness. Our Grod is so nigh, 
our glorious tent-mate in a guise so gentle, that we come 
to look upon him in his divine sleep, more tenderly 
than we could even in the waking mercies and chari- 
ties of his life. The very heaven of sky and star, 
that ceils the august chamber of his sleep, is more sanc- 
tified from underneath, than before, it was from above. 
The world is another world — we are other ourselves. 
this nearness, this daring familiarity, shall I say, of 
God ! When he says so evidently in this dear, tender, 
mystery, "come," canst thou, guilty, fearing spirit, 
reject an approach so lowly and so lovely! And thou 
disciple too, whose faith is clouded, and upon whom the 
storms of the mind, as well as the less terrible storms 
of Providence, are loosed, think it not strange or dis- 
heartening, that thy Master sleeps — tender and great 
sign is it for you that he does — only go to him and say 
"Master I perish," and have it also to say, as the 
storm settles forthwith into peace, "What manner of 
man is this?" 

Once more the analogies of the sleep of Jesus sug- 
gest the Christian right, and even duty, of those relaxa- 
tions, which are necessary, at times, to loosen the strain 
of life and restore the freshness of its powers. Christ, 
as we have seen, actually tore himself away from multi- 
tudes waiting to be healed, that he might rent himself 
by sleep. He had a way too of retiring often to 



CHRIST ASLEEP. 159 

mountain solitudes and by -places on the sea, partly 
for the resting of his exhausted energies. Sometimes 
also he called his disciples off in this manner, saying — 
" come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest 
awhile." Not that every disciple is, of course, to re- 
tire into solitudes and desert places, when he wants 
recre^ion. Jesus was obliged to seek such places, to 
escape the continual press of the crowd. In our day, a 
waking rest of travel, change of scene, new society, is 
permitted, and when it is a privilege assumed by faith- 
ful men, to recruit them for their works of duty, they 
have it by God's sanction, and even as a part of the 
sound economy of life. Going after a turn of gaiety or 
dissipation, not after Christian rest, or going after rest 
only because you are wearied and worried by selfish 
overdoings, troubled and spent by toils that serve an 
idol, is a very different matter. The true blessing of 
rest is on you, only when you carry a good mind with 
you, able to look back on works of industry and faith- 
fulness, suspended for a time, that you may do them 
more effectively. Going in such a frame, you shall rest 
awhile, as none but such can rest. Nature will dress 
herself in beauty to your eye, calm thoughts will fan 
you with their cooling breath, and the joy of the Lord 
will be strength to your wasted brain and body. Ah, 
there is no luxury of indulgence to be compared with 
this true Christian rest ! Money will not buy it, shows 
and pleasures can not woo its approach, no conjuration 
of art, or contrived gaiety, will compass it even for an 
hour : but it settles, like dew, unsought, upon the faith- 



160 CHRIST ASLEEP. 

ful servant of duty, bathing his weariness and recruit- 
ing his powers for a new engagement in his calling. 
Go ye thus apart and rest awhile if God permits. 

But if you go to kill time, or to cheat the ennui of 
an idle life, or to drown your self-remembrance in 
giddy excesses, or to coax into composure nervous en- 
ergies eaten out by the passion or flustered ky the 
ventures of gain, there goes an enemy with you that 
will bitterly mock you, giving you the type, in what you 
seek but nowhere find, of that more awful disappoint- 
ment that awaits the rest of eternity. What, in fact, are 
you dying of now, but of rest that is no rest — the inanity 
of ease and idleness, the insipid bliss of cloyed, over- 
worn pleasures, nights that add weariness to the wea- 
riness of the days, sabbaths of God that are bores and 
not restings under the fourth commandment. I 
would rather sleep in a fisherman's boat, in thunder and 
tempest and rain, exhausted by a dajr of useful, Christly 
work, only dreaming there of the good rest to come, 
than to never know the exhaustions of true industry, 
and spend life, lolling in equipages, and courting pleas- 
ures that will not come ! For what too are such ready, 
dying in their pampered bodies and worn out splen- 
dors, but to turn away heart-sick, as here, from the 
golden sands of the river, and chill with nervous ague 
for the shades of the trees of life. Blessed are the 
dead that die in the Lord; for they rest from their 
labors. Blessed only they; for where there is no 
labor, spending life's capacity for God, there is, of course, 
no rest. 



VIII. 

CHRISTIAN ABILITY. 

"Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, 
and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about 
with a very small helm, tuhithersoever the governor listethP 
James iii. 4. 

The ships that were "so great" in former days, were, 
in fact, scarcely more than cock-boats, or small coasters, 
scraping round the shores of the inland seas ; whereas, 
now, what we call the great ships are big enough to 
store in their hold, a whole armed fleet of the ancient 
time, vessels and men together ; and these huge bulks 
strike out on the broad oceans defying their storms, yet 
still turned about, as before, with a very small helm, 
whithersoever the helmsman will. There he stands at 
his post, a single man, scarcely more than a fly that has 
lighted on the immense bulk of the vessel, having a 
small city of people and their goods in the world of 
timber under him, and perhaps with only one hand, 
turning gently his lever of wood, or nicely guaging the 
motion of his wheel, steers along its steady track the 
mountain mass of the ship, turning it always to its 
course, even as he would an arrow to its mark. 

Dropping now the particular reference had by our 
14* 



162 CHRISTIAN ABILITY. 

apostle, in his illustration, to the tongue, or the power 
of the tongue, I shall take it simply as an instance or 
exhibition of what is more general, viz., the fact — That 
man turns about every thing, handles all heaviest bulks, 
masters all hardest difficulties in the same ivay ; that is, 
by using a small power so as to get the operation of a power 
greater than his own. He gets an immense ability thus, 
where his sufficiency is most restricted, and his Chris- 
tian ability is of just this kind. We have no power to 
handle ships at sea by their bulk ; as little have we to 
do or become, in the grand whole of character, what 
(rod requires of us. The soul is a magnitude more 
massive than any ship, and the storms it encounters are 
wilder than those of the sea. And yet there are small 
helms given us, by which we are able always to steer it 
triumphantly on, to just the good we seek and the high- 
est we can even conceive. 

In this mode of statement the very supposition is, 
you perceive, that we have no ability in ourselves, more 
than simply to turn ourselves into the track of another, 
more sufficient power, and so to have it upon us. 
Helms do not impel ships, and if there were no other 
kind of power moving on the sea, they would only 
swing dead-logged upon the waters, making never a 
voyage. So the power we have as persons, in religion, 
is not a power of self-impulsion, but only a steering 
power ; though it is a very great power at that. For 
when we so use it as to hold ourselves fairly to Grod's 
operation, as we hold a ship to the winds, that is suffi- 
cient, that will do every thing, turning even our impos- 



CHRISTIAN ABILITY. 163 

sibles themselves into victory. Our inability to regen- 
erate, or new-create ourselves can not be too strongly 
stated. As little can our ability, when regarding the 
fair adjustment and perpetual offering of ourselves to 
God's operation. 

Glance a moment here at the analogies of our phys- 
ical experience. Great, overwhelmingly great, as the 
forces and weights of nature are, what do we accomplish 
more easily than to turn about their whole body and 
bring them into manageable service ? — doing it always 
by some adjustment, or mode of address, which ac- 
knowledges their superior force. We do not manage 
a horse by the collar, but by the bit. "We do not raise 
the winds that serve us by blowing on the mill our- 
selves, but we let them blow as they list, only setting 
the fans of the wheel to get advantage of them. The 
cliffs of rocks we do not tear open with our hands, but 
we drill them and, by merely touching a little gunpow- 
der with a spark of fire, as we know how, let that blow 
them into the air by a force of its own, repeating the 
operation till we have literally removed mountains. 
Our many thousand wheels of manufacture we do not 
turn by our arms, but we take the rivers, flowing as 
they will, and let them flow, only cutting sluices for 
them and setting wheels before them, or under them; 
whereupon they turn producers for us and even builders 
of cities. "We have a way too of taking that most 
fierce and dreadful power called steam into service and 
management — doing it never by gathering it up into our 
arms and holding it in compression, but by raising it in 



164 CHRISTIAN ABILITY. 

heated folds of iron, and turning it through cocks and 
conduit pipes, into points of lifting or expansion, 
where it does the work of many winds and waters, con- 
quering in fact both oceans and their storms. The 
lightnings we do not catch by the chase and whip into 
service, to be our couriers, but we just give them a wire 
and they run, of their own accord, upon our errands, 
true and swift as we could wish. We bring in thus all 
the great powers of nature and set them to doing almost 
miracles for us, by only just offering ourselves to them, 
in a way that steers them into our service. The great 
art now of all arts, that which is changing and new- 
creating the modern world, is, at bottom and in some 
real sense, a steering art. All our machineries — and 
where is the end of them? — are only so many adjust- 
ments, by which the great bulks and masses of force in 
nature are steered into methods of use. Even our rail 
roads, which are revolutionizing, in a sense, all the 
values and powers of the world, are in fact scarcely 
more than adjustments for the steering of motions and 
forces. The very skill we study most, and most contin- 
ually practice is that of address to nature ; finding how, 
or by what means and arrangements, we may get the 
forces of the creation to exert themselves in our behalf. 
Our ability thus amplified stops at almost nothing. 
Neither have we any difficulty in regard to this kind 
of ability, as if it were no ability at all. It is precisely 
that in one view, and in another it is all ability. Hav- 
ing got some force of nature, be it this or that, into use, 
we have it even as a property, we make real estate 



CHRISTIAN ABILITY. 165 

of it, buy it and sell it and, when we have it not, 
set our wheels of motion, raise our cylinders and fires, 
to obtain it. And it never once occurs to us that the 
weakness we thereby confess in ourselves is any real 
inability, or creates any shade of discouragement to 
effort. On the contrary we call it our great power over 
nature, and we have courage given us in it to attempt 
almost any thing. 

Prepared by such analogies, our dependence, in the mat- 
ter of religion, ought to create no speculative difficulty, 
and I really do not believe that it does, unless it be in some 
few exceptional cases. There used to be much debate 
over the question of ability and dependence, but as far 
as my knowledge extends, such difficulties are not felt 
any longer as they once were. And yet we seem to 
have as much difficulty as ever in making that practical 
adjustment of ourselves to God, which is necessary in 
any and every true act of dependence. 

Thus a great many, admitting quietly the fact of 
some such ability as makes them responsible, take it 
really upon themselves to do, out and out and by their 
own force, all which they are responsible for. It is as if 
they were setting themselves to steady and move on the 
general bulk of the ship, seizing it by its body. "What 
tremendous weights and. fearfully complex forces the 
soul contains, and how many and fierce the storms may 
be that have broken loose in it, under the retributive 
damage of sin, they do not sufficiently consider, daring 
even to hope that they can gather it back into the sweet 
unity of order and health, by their own self-governing 



166 CHRISTIAN ABILITY. 

power. It turns out of course, since they can govern 
but one thing at a time, that while they are governing 
that one, a hundred others are breaking loose — and all 
these lusting, rasping, raging, tumultuous, wild, forces 
of evil, driving like fierce winds and tossing like moun- 
tain seas, are too much, of course, for any human 
power of self-government. 

Besides we have no capacity, under the natural laws 
of the soul, as a self-governing creature, to govern suc- 
cessfully any thing, except indirectly, that is by a 
process of steering. We can not govern a bad passion 
or grudge by choking it down, or master a wild ambi- 
tion by willing it away, or stop the trains of bad 
thoughts by a direct fight with them — which fight 
would only keep them still in mind as before — all that 
we can do in such matters, in a way of self-regulation, 
is to simply steer the mind off from its grudges, ambi- 
tions, bad thoughts, by getting it occupied with good 
and pure objects that work a diversion ; and then the 
danger is — only working thus upon ourselves — that we 
shortly forget ourselves ; when the sky is filled, again, 
of course, with the old tumult. "We ourselves, acting 
on ourselves, institute harmony in the soul and estab- 
lish heaven's order in its working ? — why if all its many 
thousand parts and forces were put in a perfect military 
subjection to the will, we could not even then conceive 
the state of internal order and harmony accurately 
enough to command them into their fit places and 
functions. 

Furthermore, if we could, our self-government would 



CHRISTIAN ABILITY. 1G7 

not be the state of religion, or bring us any one of its 
blessed incidents. The soul, as a religious creature, is 
put in affiance, by a fixed necessity of its nature, with 
God. Having broken this bond in its sin it comes back 
in religion to become what it inwardly longs for — re- 
stored to God, tilled with God's inspirations, made con- 
scious of God. And this is its regeneration ; a grand, 
all-dominating, change that supposes a new revelation 
of God in it, and is called, in that view, its being born 
of God. Can it then reveal God in itself by its own 
self-regulative force? Can it, in fact, accomplish any 
one thing that is distinctively religious — the state of 
peace, the state of liberty, the state of light, the state 
of assurance? "Impossible" is the word written over 
against every character and condition of good it can, as 
a religious nature, attempt. And yet these impossibles 
we can easily and surely master, by only bringing our- 
selves into the range of God's operations. The helm- 
power only is ours, the executive is God's. He can 
govern the soul, its grudges, lusts, ambitions, bad 
thoughts, all at once. He knows the state of harmony 
internally and can settle us in it as a state of rest. He 
has inspirations, when he gets into our love, that make 
all duty free. He can settle assurance and confidence 
in us. He can be peace in the sealing of his forgive- 
ness upon us. Eevealing himself in the soul, he can 
fill its horizon with light. He can be angelic perfec- 
tion in us, he can be purity, heaven, in his own fit time 
and order. 

What is wanted therefore in us, and nothing more is 



168 CHRISTIAN ABILITY. 

possible for us, is the using of our small helms so as to 
make our appeal to God's operation. Self-impelling, 
self-renovating power we have none; but the helm 
power we have, and if we use it rightly, it will put us 
in the range of all power, even the mighty power of 
God. Hence the great call of the scripture salvation 
is, "come unto me," "come unto God;" because the 
coming unto God is the coming unto God's operation, 
and the receiving of what his divine power will work 
in the soul, when he is templed in it. Hence also the 
call to renounce our own will, to renounce the world, 
to renounce eternally sin ; because whoever lives in his 
own will — lives for the world as his end, lives apart 
from all homage to God — can not be in God's will, or 
come at all into God's operation. In the same way 
there must be a clearing of a thousand particular and 
even smallest things that will steer off the soul from 
God. When the helm of a ship gets foul, or so tangled 
in ropes, or weeds, that it can not traverse freely, it will 
even steer the ship into wreck instead of holding it to 
its course. So exactly it is with the soul. An old 
grudge adhered to steers it forever away from God. 
Any mode of profit, whose fairness or beneficence to 
men we distrust, but will not give up, will do the same. 
Adhering only to a party that we begin to doubt the 
merit of, takes away the possibility even of confidence 
toward God. In the same way, the dread only of 
being singular, the going after popularity, the fear of 
men's opinions, the cringing of the soul to men's fash- 
ions — all these give over the helm of one's life to others, 



CHRISTIAN ABILITY. 169 

that they may turn it where they will — always away, of 
course, and still away from God. Every such thing 
must of necessity be renounced or even denounced, as 
we hope to come into God's operation, or come unto 
God. No soul is born of God till it comes into his 
very mind and offers itself, as a really transparent me 
dium, to his light. When the helm is practically set, 
honestly guaged for God, God will be a perfectly open 
harbor to it, but how can it think of entering either 
this or- any other harbor, when it is really steering it- 
self away? 

Hence also that very positive matter called faith, or 
the fixed demand of it as a condition of salvation. 
The conception of it is, not that we are to do or attempt 
doing something great upon ourselves — regenerating 
ourselves, sanctifying ourselves. All that we can do is 
to simply trust ourselves over to God, and so to bring our- 
selves into the range of His divine operation. In one 
view, or considered as including what God does for it 
and by it, faith it is very true is every thing — the 
whole substance and bulk and body of holiness ; but 
considered in a manner most analytical and closest to 
us, it is our act alone and a very small one at that, to 
be the determining helm of a new life. Doubtless faith, 
again, is some how wrought by God, but it is none the 
less acted by us, being the sublimest and completest 
mortal act of dependence possible ; in which the soul, 
ceasing from itself, turns away to God — comes unto God. 
Whereupon as God meets it, accepts it, and pours him- 
self into its open gates, it is filled with God's inspire 

15 



170 CHRISTIAN ABILITY. 

tions and the working of his mighty power. Now the 
life proceeds again from God as it ought, being insti- 
gated inwardly, by his divine movement. Peace, lib- 
erty, light are its element; it is even conscious of 
God. 

All human doings therefore, as regards the souls' re- 
generation, or the beginning of a new life, amount to 
nothing more than the right use of a power that steers it 
into the sphere of God's operation. And the reason 
why so many fail here is, that they undertake to do 
the work themselves, heaving away spasmodically to lift 
themselves over the unknown crisis by main strength — 
as if seizing the ship by its mast, or the main bulk of 
its body, they were going to push it on through the 
vo} 7 age themselves ! Whereas it is the work of God, 
and not in any other sense their own, than that coming 
in, to God, by a total trust in Him, they are to have it 
in God's working. Let the wind blow where it lis- 
teth — God will take care of that — they have only to 
put themselves to it, and the impossible is done. 

In just this way also it is that so many miscarriages 
occur, after conversion. Nothing was necessary to pre- 
vent them, but simply to carry a steady helm in life's 
duties. Thus there will be some who get tired of the 
helm ; to be always at their post, praying always, guag- 
ing their motions carefully to meet their new conditions, 
keeping their courses set exactly by their conscience, 
and allowing no slack times of indulgence, becomes 
wearisome as certainly as they lose out the Spirit that 
makes exactness liberty, and then they take away their 



CHRISTIAN ABILITY. 171 

hand, as it were to rest themselves. Some too will 
have a way of persuading themselves that the soul will 
get on well enough, at least for a time, by the impulse 
it is under already, and so far will consent to do what 
no sailor ever dares, let the ship steer itself; whereupon, 
when it begins to wheel, and plunge, and go just no- 
where, as regards the voyage, they begin also to cry, 
"impossible !" "how can we stop it I" "how can we turn 
it back !" They imagine some great fatality, impossible 
to be controlled, when in fact the only fatality suffered 
is that of a ship that can not keep, or get back into, its 
course without being steered. 

At the same time it must not be forgotten, that mul- 
titudes of disciples fall out of course, for no less posi- 
tive reason than that they actually steer themselves out 
of God's operation. One goes into an employment the 
right of which he is not sufficiently sure of to have a 
good conscience in it. Another galls himself in a right 
employment, by the consciously wrong manner in 
which he carries it on. A third goes into company that 
consciously does him injury, yet still continues to go. 
A male disciple turns himself to the pursuit of honor, 
a female disciple to the worship of fashion ; one to the 
shows of condition, the other to the more personal van- 
ities of dress. Thousands again will let their lusts and 
appetites get above their affections, their bodies above 
their minds. Some are nursing their pride and some 
their envy, driven of fierce winds by the gustiness of 
one, eaten out and barnacled by the water vermin of 
the other. These now and such like are the small 



172 CHRISTIAN ABILITY. 

helms, which all you keep turning, who turn yourselves 
away. You ask why it is, half grievingly, that you fall 
away from (rod so often, and loose the savor of his 
friendship so easily ? But the very simple fact, if you 
could see it, is that you really steer yourselves away ; 
allowing yourselves in modes of life that even turn you 
off from God, as by your own act. You not only for- 
get, or neglect, the small helms of guidance, but you 
actually turn them the wrong way — only making now 
and then some clumsy effort, as you wake up in 
pauses of concern, to do some mighty thing by your 
will ; in which you virtually attempt to handle the ship 
by its body — sighing piously in mock resignation, as 
you fail, over the inevitable fact of your dependence ! 
O, if you could but use your dependence rightly, find- 
ing how to really and truly depend, what power and 
victory would it bring ! The very steering power 
you have, which is the highest power God has given 
you to wield, is nothing but a way of depending ; that 
is of right self-adjustment to the gales of the Spirit and 
the operating forces of God. How certainly too and 
tenderly would your God be drawn to you, putting all 
his power upon you, if he only saw you carefully guag- 
ing your small duties so as to guide yourselves into his 
help. Remember his promise, "he that is faithful in 
that which is least," — nothing draws the heart of God 
like that. 

Now it is very true that a man who is tending the 
small helm of duty with great exactness may become 
painfully legal in it — a precisionist, a Pharisee. But it 



CHRISTIAN ABILITY. 173 

should not be so, and never will be, save when the pre- 
cision is itself made a religion of. That precision 
which is only a way of steering the soul, precisely and 
faithfully, into (rod's inspirations, is but the necessary 
condition of liberty. No man ever keeps the way of 
liberty in a heedless, hap-hazard life. Mere strictness is 
only a mode of pain, but the strictness of a delicately 
faithful and punctual address to God, has God's witness 
and free blessing always upon it. Such a disciple con- 
sciously means to be faithful and, as certainly as God is 
God, he will somehow have God's power upon him. A 
very nice way of application, a steady, sleepless watch 
of the helm, turning it moment by moment, by gentle 
deflections — this navigates the ship and keeps it bound- 
ing on, as in the liberty of the sea ! No Christian is 
ever driven loose from his course, when he holds him- 
self up to God, in the adjustment of a careful trust. 

Now in all that I have said, thus far, in the unfolding 
of this very practical subject, I have been preparing a 
more distinctly Christian view of it, that could not oth- 
erwise be .given — this I will now present, and with this 
I close. 

I have been showing what power accrues, or will ac- 
crue, as we keep ourselves in, or bring ourselves into, 
the range of God's operation ; and this word operation 
has been taken probably as referring only to the omni- 
potent working of his will, or spiritual force. But 
there is a power of God which is not his omnipotence, 
and has a wholly different mode of working ; I mean 
his moral power — that of his beauty, goodness, gentle- 



174 CHRISTIAN ABILITY. 

ness, truth, purity, suffering compassion, in one word, 
his character. In this kind of power, he works, not by 
what he wills, but by what he is. What is wanted, 
therefore, above all things, in the regeneration of souls, 
and their advancement toward perfection afterward, is to 
be somehow put in the range of this higher power and 
kejDt there. And here exactly is the sublime art and 
glory of the new divine economy in Christ. For he is 
such, and so related to our want, that our mind gets a 
way open through him to God's divine beauty and 
greatness, so that we may bring our heart up into the 
transforming, molding, efficacy of these, which we most 
especially need — need even, the more imperatively, that 
our very conceptions of God, under the lowness and 
blind apathy of our sin, are so dull, and dim, and coarse, 
as to have little value and power. 

The infinite perfection, or unseen beauty of God — ■ 
how could we so much as frame a notion of it, when 
even the being of God, as an unseen spirit, has so little 
reality to our coarse and fearfully demoralized appre- 
hensions ? Therefore understanding well our utter ina- 
bility to so much as conceive the perfect good in which 
we require to be fashioned, or the moral excellence of 
God whose image is to stamp itself upon us, He has 
undertaken to put even this before our eyes. To this 
end he becomes incarnate in the person of His Son. 
As the incarnate Son, He is God in the small, God in 
humanity, the Son of Man, bringing all God's beauty 
and perfection to us in a personal being and life akin to 
our own — powerful on our own, by the tragic tenderness 



CHRISTIAN ABILITY. 175 

of his cross ; so that if we simply love and cleave unto 
his human person, unto his cross, we embrace in him 
all that is included in God's infinite feeling and char- 
acter. In this view it is, that he says, "lam the door ;" 
for he is just that opening into the infinite beauty that 
brings us to the sense of it, and puts us in the power of 
it. Just this too was his meaning when he said, " he that 
hath seen me hath seen the Father " — he has seen a man 
simply, in one view ; yet, in another, he has seen even 
God, in all those distant, impossible glories and perfec- 
tions, he otherwise could not conceive. This too was 
what he had in thought when he said — " He that be- 
lieveth on me believeth not on me, but on him that sent 
me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me." 
The omnipotence of God works absolutely, the moral 
power of God by being seen, and Christ makes it seen. 
By which means, as an apostle conceives, he becomes the 
power of God — " Christ the power of God and the wis- 
dom of God." In short this exactly is Christianity — 
this thought labors all through — that Christ in humanity 
is God humanized, divine feeling and perfection let 
down into the modes of finite sentiment and apprehen- 
sion. In his human person, and the revelation of his 
cross, he is the door, the interpreter to our hearts, of 
God himself — so the moral power of God upon our 
hearts. It is not necessary that we should so much as 
frame the intellectual idea of God's perfection from him, 
which multitudes could never do — we have simply to 
love him and cleave to him as to a human person, and 
we have the very excellence of God framing itself into 



176 CHRISTIAN ABILITY. 

us, by a most naturally relational, humanly real, sym- 
pathy ; the power, that is the moral power, of God is 
upon us, and revealing itself in us with all needed 
efficacy. 

Christ then as the Son of Man, is that small helm put 
in the hand, so to speak, of our affections, to bring us 
in, to God's most interior beauty and perfection, and 
puts us in the power of His infinite, unseen character ; 
thus to be molded by it and fashioned to conformity 
with it. And so we have nothing to do but to keep his 
company, and watch for him in faithful adhesion to his 
person, in order to be kept in the very element of God's 
character, and have the consciousness of God, as a state 
of continually progressive and immovably steadfast ex- 
perience. The moral power of God and God's glory is 
mirrored directly into us, to become a divine glory in 
us. Beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, we 
are changed into the same image from glory to glory. 
This it is, working in our sin, that clears it all away — 
the power of God unto salvation. 

What now brethren and friends, is our conclusion ? 
What have we seen but that all condolings with our- 
selves, all regrets of failure, turning upon the fact of 
our weakness, all protestations of inability, all sighs and 
suspirations ending in the word "impossible," are with- 
out a shadow of reason — utterly groundless. We can 
do and become just all that we ought, and without so 
much as one strain of self-endeavor. It is very true 
that God has not made us omnipotent — we can not ma- • 
nipulate ourselves into holy character by our will, we 



CHRISTIAN ABILITY. 177 

can neither regenerate, nor make free, nor purify, nor 
keep ourselves. And just so we can not do any thing 
in the world of natural experience, without making our 
address to the powers of nature. Do we mourn over 
this in listless impatience, and call it our dreadful ina- 
bility ? Does the man who can not navigate a ship by 
its body, or drag it through the sea by its beak, set him- 
self down upon the word impossible, and desist from 
the voyage ? No, but he takes the very small helm, 
heading bravely out into the storms, compelling the 
huge bulk, in that easy manner, to go where he sends 
it, dashing on still on, by night and by day, and week 
after week, and month after month, till he has taken it 
possibly clean round the planet he lives on, and brought 
it quietly in to the haven for which he was set. Here, 
just here, is the mighty power of man, that he can 
steer ! Weak in himself, as regards most things, able to 
do almost nothing in the gross, he can yet do almost 
any thing by only steering it into the lines of 
forces that will do it for him. And the same holds 
true exactly in religion. No man here is called to do 
some great thing which he can not do. Nothing is 
necessary for you, in becoming a Christian, or maintain 
ing a triumphant Christian life, but just to stay by the 
helm, and put yourselves in where the power is — then 
you have all power, and every mountain bulk goes 
away at your bidding ! Come unto God, unite your- 
selves to God, and the doing power you have is infi- 
-Jiite !— and is none the less yours because it is His. Trim 
your ship steadily to the course, and God's own gales 



178 CHKISTIAN ABILITY. 

will waft it. If .you want success enough to set your- 
selves for it, and guage your courses accurately by a 
strict application, infallible success is yours. Or, better 
still, if your mind is dark, if you do not even know 
how to guage any movement rightly, or even what the 
words mean that speak of it — then come to the man 
Jesus, your blessed, all perfect brother, ask him to let you 
go with him and keep him company, cling fast to him, 
and all the transforming moral power of God shall be 
with you. To investigate much and know many things, 
is not necessary. Only to love Jesus and adhere to 
him faithfully, knowing simply him, is wisdom enough. 
He will be the door, so that your heart will pass in, 
where your understanding can not reach. No matter 
how weak you may seem to be, or how many impassa- 
ble mountains to be before you, or how many fierce 
storms to be raging round you, still you will go over 
mountains beaten small as chaff, on through tempests 
that have heard the word "be still." You will never 
fail or fall. Stay by your love to Jesus and the power 
of God's infinite will is with you, and the still mightier, 
more inconceivable, power of his greatness upon you. 
O this glorious fact of our dependence — if we speak of 
ability, we have all utmost ability in it. "We come to 
no bar in it, brethren, as many are wont to speak. If 
only we can rightly depend, we come into all power 
rather, and are able to do all things I Here it is that so 
many of God's mighty ones became mighty — Moses, 
Elijah, Paul, Luther, Cromwell — all those efficient an<^ 
successful ones that we ourselves have met, wondering 



CHKISTIAN ABILITY. 179 

often how they got such emphasis of action, such re- 
sistless sway. They were men who kept company with 
God, and lived in the powerful element of his divine 
operation. Here is the only way of success, whether 
of single men, or of churches. How can a church get 
on in any great concern of religion, when it is out at 
sea, beating about as it is driven, and steering just no 
whither. Nor is it any better if we take the ship into 
our own hands, to do all for it ourselves. Let us 
come into God's operation, and God will know how to 
open a way for us. He will lead just where we 
most want to go, and send us every gift even as he 
gives us a gospel. So if we are baffled personally, 
in all our Christian aims and doings, losing ground, 
weak and growing weaker, unhappy, dissatisfied, hope- 
less of good — out upon this wild and dreadful sea, and 
driven by all fierce winds and storms of the mind, we 
have only to steer ourselves on, by the steady helm of 
dependence, and our way is clear to the harbor. 



IX. 

INTEGRITY AND GRACE. 



" Judge me Lord according to my righteousness, and 
according to mine integrity that is in me." — Ps. vii, 8. 

A truly noble confidence ! — and yet many of our 
time would call the language very dangerous, or scarcely 
Christian, language, if it were spoken by any but one 
of the scripture saints. What can be a slipperier foot- 
ing, they would say, for any sinner of mankind, than to 
be appealing to God in the confidence of his own right- 
eousness ; or, what is even worse, in the confidence of 
his mere integrity ? What does it show but a state of 
egregious, fearfully overgrown, spiritual conceit, coupled 
with a prodigious self-ignorance? And what could 
evince a lower sense of God and religion ? We shall 
see whether it is so, or must needs be so in all cases or 
not. 

It may not be amiss to note that some Unitarian 
teachers, on the other hand, charge it as a fault in our 
doctrine 'of salvation by grace, or justification by faith, 
that it lets down even the standards of our morality 
itself; making grace a cover for all defections from 
honor, truth, honesty, and whatever belongs to the 



INTEGRITY AND GRACE. 181 

outward integrity of our practices ; allowing us to be 
selfish, heartless, perfidious, crafty, cruel, mean, and all 
this in good keeping, because it is a part of our merit 
under grace, to have no merit. 

Let us pursue this subject, and see if we can find the 
true place for integrity under the Christian salvation. 
And we shall best open the inquiry, I think, by 
noting — 

1. How the scriptures speak of integrity ; how mani- 
fold and bold the forms in which they commend it, and 
how freely the good men of the scripture times testify 
their consciousness of it, in their appeals to Grod. The 
text I have cited does not stand alone. In the twenty- 
sixth Psalm, David says again — "Judge me O Lord; 
for I have walked in mine integrity." And again — 
" But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity." The 
Proverbs testify in language still more unqualified, 
— "that the integrity of the upright shall preserve 
them," "The just man walketh in his integrity." In 
the same view it is, that good men are so often called 
" the upright " and " the just " — " Mark the perfect man 
and behold the upright," "The way of the just is 
uprightness, thou most upright dost weigh the path of 
the just." They are called "righteous " too and "right " 
in the same manner, and it is even declared that they 
"shall deliver their own souls by their righteousness." 
And lest we should imagine that the integrity, honored 
by so many commendations and examples, is only a 
crude and partial conception, belonging to the piety of 
the Old Testament, the Christian disciples of the New 

16 



182 INTEGRITY AND GRACE. 

are testifying also in a hundred ways, to the integrity, 
before God and man, in which they consciously live. 
They dare to say that they have a conscience void of 
offense, that they serve God with a pure conscience, that 
they count it nothing to be judged of man's judgment, 
when they know that God approves them. They re- 
joice in the confidence that they are made manifest 
unto God, and tenderly hope that they may be made 
manifest also in the consciences of men. They are so 
assured in the sense of their own integrity, as followers of 
Christ, that they even dare to exhort others to walk 
as they have them for examples. And this holy con- 
sciousness of being right with God, of being wholly 
offered up to . him, of wanting to know nothing but 
Christ, of losing all things for his sake, appears and 
reappears in as many forms as language can possibly 
take. They spend their life, as it were, in the testi- 
mony that they please God. Making the strongest con- 
fessions of ill desert, and resting their salvation every- 
where on the justifying grace and righteousness of God, 
they still are able, somehow, to be free in professing their 
own conscious integrity in their discipleship, and the sense 
they have of beiog right and true — whole men, so to 
speak, in the service of their master. Whether we can 
explain the riddle, or not, so it is. But the explanation 
is not difficult, and, before we have done, will be made 
sufficiently clear. Consider then — 

2. What integrity means, or what is the state in- 
tended by it. As an integer is a whole, in distinction 
from a fraction, which is only a part, so a man of in- 



INTEGRITY AND GRACE. 183 

tegrity is a man whose aim, in the right, is a whole aim, 
in distinction from one whose aim is divided, partial, or 
unstable. It is snch a state of right intention as allows 
the man to be consciously right-minded, and to firmly 
rest in the singleness of his purpose. He is a man who 
stands in the full honors of rectitude before his own 
mind or conscience. It does not mean that he has 
never been a sinner, or that he is not now, as regards 
the disorders and moral weaknesses of his nature, but 
simply that whatever may have been his life, or the 
guilt of it, he is now turned, as regards the intent of his 
soul, to do and be wholly right ; firmly set, of course, 
to receive all the possible helps in his reach, for main- 
taining a life wholly right with. God and man. 

But we must not pass over the distinction between 
what is called commercial, or social integrity, and the 
higher integrity of religion. This commercial integrity 
which is greatly affected and much praised among men, 
relates only to matters of truth and personal justice in 
the outward affairs of life, and becomes integrity only be- 
cause it is measured by a partial and merely human 
standard, viz., the standard of the market, and of so- 
cial opinion. Such a character is always held in high 
respect among men, and, what is more, it should be. It 
is really refreshing in this selfish, scheming, sharp-deal- 
ing world, to meet an honest man. Whether he be a 
Christian or not, we love to honor such a man. It will 
also be seen that he is a man who means, at least so far, 
to honor himself. But it does not follow that such a 
man's integrity is complete enough even to give him a 



184 INTEGEITY AND GKACE. 

good conscience. He is, after all, it may be, no such 
integer in Lis confidence, or the approbation of his own 
mind, as he consciously might be. His intent is not 
really right, that is to accept the principle of right doing 
in its breadth, as the arbiter of all action, and do and 
be all right and forever. All that can be said of him, 
all that he will say for himself, is that he has had it for 
his law to speak the truth, fulfill his promises, and deal 
fairly by his fellow men. Still it is not, and has never 
been his aim, or object, to do what is right to God ; and 
that if I am not mistaken, is a matter of much higher 
consequence and more necessary to his real integrity. 
God is a person as truly as men are, more closely related 
to us than they, a better 'friend, one who has more feel- 
ing to be injured than they all, claims of right more 
sacred. What then does it signify that a man gives 
men their due, and will not give God his ? Does it give 
one a title to be called humane, that he will not 
stick a fly with a pin because of his tenderness, and yet 
will stab, in bitter grudge, his fellow man ? Does it 
fitly entitle one to the name of a just man, that he is 
honest and fair with men of one color, and not with 
those of another, honest and fair on three days, or even 
five days in the week, and not on the days that remain? 
What then shall we think of the mere commercial in- 
tegrity just described, taken by itself? Calling it integ- 
rity, it is still integrity by halves, and, of course, with- 
out the principle ; integrity by market standards only, 
and not by any standard that makes a real integer in 
duty. Eeal integrity begins with the principle, mean- 



INTEGRITY AND GRACE. 185 

ing to give every one his due ; to be right with God, as 
with men, right against popularity as with it, right 
everywhere, wholly and eternally right. 

You perceive, in this manner, how easy it it is for a 
man to be in great repute for this virtue, and yet be 
wholly uncommitted to principle in it. Nay, he may 
even be a very bad man. Examples of the kind will 
occur to almost any one. I knew in college, and after- 
ward in a remote part of the country, a man of such 
repute now in the law, that he was said to have made 
the greatest argument ever presented before the Supreme 
Court at Washington, whose reputation, as a kind 
of Cato in this matter of market integrity, was scarcely 
less remarkable. He had more than once kicked a man 
out of his office, who had come to engage him in a case 
plainly tainted with fraud, and would never allow him- 
self to gain a point, by the least deviation from truth. 
And yet he was a man of many vices, and a man, 
withal, of such infernal temper, that his wife and chil- 
dren knew him only as a tyrant scarcely endurable. 
Getting exasperated almost to the pitch of insanity, by 
what he conceived to be a base attempt of his law part- 
ner to jew him, for he was a Jew, in a matter of busi- 
ness, he drew off in disgust and anger from his prac- 
tice, determined to add nothing more to the profits of 
the concern, where before he had, in fact, brought all. 
As the contract still existed in law, the right of his pro- 
ceeding might be questioned, but his almost overgrown 
sensibilities to points of honor would ~no longer suffer 
him even to look upon the face of such a man. Still he 

16* 



186 INTEGRITY AND GEACE. 

would not so far disrespect the contract as to open a 
separate and rival office, but hired himself out as a com- 
mon laborer in unloading coal from one of the ships in 
the harbor. While at work there, smirched and 
grimed by coal-dust, there came to him, in a few days, 
a client who wanted to engage him in a great cause 
involving the title to a vast property. Inasmuch as 
he must live, apart from all profits, he finally consented 
to undertake it, on condition that he should receive 
only a small day -wages allowance. He won the cause. 
And then, five or six years after, when he had his fam- 
ily with him, and was known to be short in the means 
of living, his old client, whom he had made a rich man, 
sent him a present of twenty thousand dollars. He was 
rather offended than pleased — as if he would do so 
mean a thing as to cover up the fact of a fee, under the 
semblance of a stipulation for day-wages! Forthwith 
he returned the present, and when it was renewed as a 
present to his wife, he required her also to send it back. 
If his partner had seen fit to raise a legal claim for the 
money as a fee, he might easily have been quieted by 
half the sum, but rather than consent to enrich a knave 
by that amount, he preferred to rob his family of the 
same. 

Now this man, so keenly sensitive to the matter of 
honor in business, as to be well nigh demonized by it, 
was not even a virtuous man. He was, in fact, the 
most magnificently abominable man I ever knew. And 
he died as he lived. The steamer on which he was a 
passenger sprung aleak at sea, and when they called 



INTEGRITY AND GRACE. 187 

him to the pumps, protesting, with an oath, that he 
would do no so mean thing as to pump for his life, he 
locked himself up in his state-room, and there he stayed, 
like a tiger in his cage, till the ship went down. 

Was he then a man of integrity ? In one view he 
certainly was, and that was his reputation. Still he 
was a man false to every right principle, both of God 
and man, but just one; an example in which any one 
may see how little the boasted integrity of commercial 
honor and truth may signify, when taken alone. 

I could easily have given you a thousand nobler and 
more beautiful examples of integrity, in the spheres of 
business, and before the human standards of commercial 
obligation. I give you this, just because it is so nearly 
repulsive ; showing, in that manner, how little true merit 
of character belongs to this kind of virtue, when it stands 
by itself. How far off is it then from being any true 
equivalent for that broad, universal, radically principled, 
integrity that includes religion. Whoever is in the 
principle of right-doing, as a principle, will be ready 
to do all right, always, and everywhere — to God as to 
men, to men as to God. This it is and this only that 
makes a genuinely whole-intent man, thus a man of in- 
tegrity. 

There is, then, a kind of integrity which goes vastly 
beyond the mere integrity of trade, and which is the 
only real integrity. The other is merely a name in which 
men of the market compliment themselves, when they 
observe their own standards ; though consciously neg- 
lecting the higher standards of right as before God, 



188 INTENSITY AND GRACE. 

This higher, and only real, integrity, is the root of all 
true character, and must be the condition, somehow, of 
Christian character itself. Let us inquire — 

3. In what manner ? Christ, we say, does not under- 
take to save men by their merit, or on terms of justice 
and reward, but to save them out of great ill desert 
rather, and by purely gratuitous favor. What place 
have we then under such a scheme of religion, for in- 
sisting on the need of integrity at all. Does it not even 
appear to be superseded, or dispensed with ? 

I wish I could deny that some pretendedly orthodox 
Christians do not seem, in fact, to think so. It is the 
comfort of what they call their piety, that Grod is going to 
dispense with all merit in them, and this they take to mean 
about the same thing as dispensing with all the sound 
realities of. character — all exactness of principle and 
conduct. They are sometimes quite sanctimonious in 
this kind of faith. Cunning, sharp, untruthful, extor- 
tious, they look up piously still, at the top of what 
they call their faith, and bless God that he is able to 
hide a multitude of sins — able to save great sinners of 
whom they are chief! Submitting themselves habitu- 
ally to evil, they compliment themselves in abundant 
confessions of sin; counting it apparently a kind of 
merit that they live loosely enough to make salvation 
by merit impossible. Ten times a day they declare that 
they will know nothing but Christ and him crucified, 
and lest they should miss of such a faith, they do not 
spare to crucify him abundantly themselves ! 

It can not be that such persons are not in a great 



INTEGRITY AND GRACE. 189 

mistake. Any scheme of salvation that undertakes to 
save without integrity, has, to say the least, a very poor 
title to respect. And it ought to be evident before- 
hand, that Christianity is no such scheme at all. 

Yes doubtless, it will be said, there must be such a thing 
as integrity — that is, commercial integrity — in Christian 
men, else they would bring very great scandal on 
the cause. Is it then permitted that, if they will be 
just and true in trade and in society, they may safely 
consent to be out. of integrity with Grod? Looking at 
■the principle of things, for there is nothing else to look 
at here, it would seem that the Great Grod and Father 
of us all is certainly as much entitled to consideration 
from us as we are from each other, and how can there 
be any genuine principle at all in a disciple, who is not 
in that higher integrity which includes doing justice to 
God — being right with God ? 

There must then be some place for the claim of integ- 
rity in our, gospel, even though it be a scheme of salvation 
by grace. Nor does the solution of the matter appear 
to be difficult. Integrity, we have seen, is wholeness 
of aim, or intent; but mere intent of soul does not 
make and never could complete a character. It is even 
conceivable that a soul steeped in the disorders of sin, 
might take up such a kind of intent, on its own part, 
and, acting by itself, be only baffled in continual defeats 
and failures to the end of life. There is no redeeming 
efficacy in right 'intent, taken by itself— it would never 
vanquish the inward state of evil at all. And yet it is 
just that by which all evil will be vanquished, under' 



190 INTEGRITY AND GRACE. 

Christ and by grace, because it puts the soul in such a 
state as makes the grace-power of Christ, co-working 
with it, effectual. Conscious of wrong, for example, 
and groaning under the bitterness of it, I take it up as 
my intent to be and become wholly right. Then I find 
Christ near me — how near! — yielding me his divine 
sympathy, and pouring his whole tenderness into my 
feeling. As regards the guilty past, he will justify me 
freely, and hold me to account no more. As regards 
the future, he will take me as a friend, raise my concep- 
tions of what is good by his own beauty, ennoble my. 
feeling by society with him, draw me up out of my 
lowness and my weak corruptions, by his character 
great in suffering, and so enable me to conquer all my 
evils, as he conquered his. As certainly then as I come 
into right intent, I shall come into faith, and trust my- 
self to him, as a means of becoming what I have under- 
taken to become. 

Here then is the place of integrity. It is even pre- 
supposed in all true faith, and enters, in that manner, 
into all true gospel character. It does not exclude the 
grace of Christ, or supersede salvation by grace, but on 
the human side moves toward grace, and is inwardly 
conjoined with it, in all the characters it forms. The 
sinning man, who comes into integrity of aim, is put 
thereby at the very gate of faith, where all God's helps 
are waiting for him. Now that he is so tenderly and 
nobly honest, there is no grace of Grod, or help of his 
merciful spirit, that will not flow into him as naturally 
as light into a window. By this grace, in which he 



INTEGRITY AND GRACE. 191 

will now trust, his whole being, feeling, aspiration, 
hope are invested, and the light of God, the brightness 
of salvation, everlasting life, is in him— he is born of 
God. 

His integrity, therefore, his new and better aim, is 
not any ground of merit, or title of desert, which dis- 
penses with faith, but his way of coming into faith — thus 
into the helps, inspirations, joys and triumphs that Christ 
will inwardly minister— in one word, into the righteous- 
ness of God. And accordingly the scriptures formally 
condition all such helps, on the integrity of the soul that 
wants them. "Ye shall seek me and find me, if ye 
search for me with all your heart — that is with a whole 
and single aim." "If I regard iniquity in my heart, 
the Lord will not hear me." " If thine eye be single, 
thy whole body shall be full of light." The scriptures, 
we may thus perceive, have no difficulty in finding how 
integrity is needed in a way of salvation by grace, and 
there is, in fact, no such difficulty, save as we make it 
ourselves. 

Having discovered, in this manner, what, and how 
great a thing integrity is, and the necessity of it on 
strictly Christian grounds, let us note in conclusion, 
some of the practical relations of the subject. And 

1. Consider what it is that gives such peace and lofti- 
ness of bearing to the life of a truly righteous man. 
What an atmosphere of serenity does it create for him, 
that he is living in a conscience void of offense. And 
when great storms of trouble drive their clouds about 
him, when he is assailed by enemies and detractors, per- 



192 INTEGRITY AND GRACE. 

secuted for his opinions, broken down by adversities, 
thrown out of confidence and respect even, as will 
sometimes happen, by false constructions of his conduct 
and malignant conspiracies against his character, still 
his soul abides in peace, because he justifies himself and 
has the witness that he pleases God. These clouds that 
seem to be about him do still not shut him in. He sits 
above with his God, and they all sail under ! Such a 
man is strong my brethren — how very strong ! There 
is no power below the stars that can shake him ! The 
steaming vapors of a diseased body can not rise high 
enough to cloud his sun. He is able still and always 
to make his great appeal and say — "Judge me Lord, 
according to my righteousness, and according to the 
integrity that is in me." Who can understand like 
him, the meaning of that word — " And the work of 
righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of right- 
eousness, quietness, and assurance forever." Here too-- 
2. Is the ground of all failures, and all highest suc- 
cesses in religion, or the Christian life. Only to be an 
honest man, in this highest and genuinely Christian 
sense, signifies a great deal more than most of us ever 
conceive. We make room for laxity here that we -may 
let in grace, and do not hold ourselves to that real in- 
tegrity that is wanted, to receive, or obtain, or be in, 
that grace. how loosely, irresponsibly, carnally, do 
many Christians live — covetous, sensual, without self- 
government, eager to be on high terms with the world, 
praying, as it were in the smoke of their vanities and 
passions, making their sacrifices in a way of compound- 



INTEGRITY AND GRACE. 193 

ing with their obligations. Little do they conceive, 
meantime, how honest a man must be to pray, how 
heartily, simply, totally, he must mean what he prays 
for. Perhaps he prays much, prays in private, prays in 
public, and has it for a continual wonder that he gets 
on so poorly, and that God, for some mysterious reason, 
does not answer his prayers ! Sometimes he will even 
be a little heart-broken by his failures, and will moisten 
his face with tears of complaint. He has made great 
struggles, it may be, at times, to freshen the fire that 
was burning in him, and yet, for some reason, he is all 
the while losing ground. His faith becomes a hand, as 
it were, without fingers, laying hold of nothing. The 
more he pumps at the well of his joys, the drier he 
grows. It is as if there were some dread fatality against 
him, and he wonders where it is. Commonly it is here — 
that he wants rectitude. He is trying to be piously ex- 
ercised in his feeling, when he is slack in his integrity. 
He has been so much afraid of being self-righteous, it 
may be, that he is not righteous at all. When he is 
loose at the conscience, how can he be clear in his 
feeling ? 

Perhaps he has conceived a higher standing in reli- 
gion, a state of attainment where his soul shall be in 
liberty, and has tried for whole months, possibly for 
years, to reach it, and yet he finds it not. He begins 
to imagine, not unlikely, that no such thing is for 
him — (rod's sovereignty is against him, and he must be 
content to stay in that lower plane that God has ap- 
pointed him, "God never means," he will say, "that 
17 



194 INTEGRITY AND GRACE. 

I should be much, of a Christian — that is given to oth- 
ers that have a higher calling." Now strange as it may 
seem, here again is the root of his difficulty — that his 
projected attainments are clear ahead of his integrity. 
Some traitor is hid in his soul's chambers that is kept 
there, and carefully fed. What is wanting is the inte- 
ger of a clear, undivided intent. Honesty ! honesty ! 
that Christian men, saying nothing of others, could 
understand how much it means, and the wonderful 
power it has ! We connive at evil and do it so cun- 
ningly that we do not know it. Our eye is evil, we 
regard iniquity in our heart, therefore $0 we fail in 
our prayers, therefore do we lose ground, therefore are 
we baffled and floored in all our attempts to rise. But 
it is not so when we have the single eye. Such power 
is there in this integrity, when it is real, that, making 
faith real, it makes all gifts attainable. God loves the 
honest mind, hears the honest prayer, pours all his ful- 
ness into the honest bosom. No great flights of ec- 
static feeling are wanted, frames carry nothing, but 
that silent, sound, integrity, which poises the soul on 
its pivot of truth and self-approbation, is so mighty that 
it wins its way to Grod through all obstacles. Here is 
the secret after all, of the true success in every case. 
Success is the fixed destiny of any soul that has once 
reached the point of whole intent. No one need be 
troubled about his frames, or fluctuations, or even what 
appear to be his losing moods, if only he can stay by 
his conscience firmly enough to say, " Judge me Lord 
according to mine integrity." Here then, brethren, is 



INTEGRITY AND GRACE. 195 

the spot where you are to make your revision, find 
what your intent is, whether it is honest and whole and 
clean, warped by no ambiguities, divided and stolen 
away by no idols. Here the Achan will be hid, if any 
where. Make sure of his dislodgment, and your way 
is clear. Then your faith will be faith, your prayers 
will be prayers ; every thing will have its genuine mean -if 
ing, and God will be revealed in every thing }^ou do. 
I proceed now 

3. To another very important deduction, viz., that 
every man who comes into a state of right intent, or is 
set to be a real integer in the right, will forthwith also 
be a Christian. There is apt to be much pride in men 
not religious, on the score of their commercial integrity. 
They will find, if they search more narrowly, that they 
still have no right conscience in it. They feel them- 
selves to be inwardly wrong. They live in a state of 
conscious disturbance. They are often consciously dis- 
ingenuous, as regards the truths and claims of religion. 
They have consciously a certain dread of God which 
harrows their peace. What I mean to say, at present, 
is that whoever gets a clear perception of the state of 
wrong in which he lives, and comes back into a genu- 
inely right intent, to be carried just where it will carry 
him, sacrifice what it will cost him — any thing to be 
right — in that man the spirit of all sin is broken, and 
his mind is in a state to lay hold of Christ, and be laid 
hold of by him, almost ere he is aware of it. Nor, 
when I say this, do I throw discredit on the common 
modes of expression; for this exactly is the point to 



196 INTEGRITY AND GRACE. 

which every converted person comes, though he may 
not so conceive at the time. One may tell of his con- 
victions, another of his fears, another of his unspeaka- 
ble wants, one of the prayer that he made thus or thus, 
another of the restitution or acknowledgment he made 
to some one he had wronged, many of their deep sor- 
row that melted into joy, many others of the despair 
they came to in their struggles, under which they fell 
off helpless in the hands of God's mercy, and behold it 
was deliverance itself. But whatever may have been 
the form of exercise, this most assuredly is in it always, 
consciously, or unconsciously present, that there is a 
coming somehow into a state of pure intent, a mind to 
receive all truth and do all right forever. And no man 
ever came to this, who did not find himself, at once, all 
over in the faith of Christ, a consciously and strangely 
new man. 

Let me give you a case, in which this particular 
point, in the matter of conversion to God, will be clearly 
distinguished. There died, in the city of New York, 
about ten years ago, a distinguished merchant, and 
much more distinguished saint of God, whose conver- 
sion was on this wise. He was born and brought up in 
the island of Santa Cruz, belonging to a wealthy and 
gay family, in which he received no religious instruc- 
tion at all. He had a naturally gay, light, forceful char- 
acter, and scarcely a religious idea. One Sunday, when 
the family and their guests went out for a ride, he re- 
mained at home. Going to the library for something 
to read, his eye fell on a book labeled " The Truth of 



INTEGRITY AND GRACE. 197 

Christianity Demonstrated.' 11 He took it down, saying as 
he looked on the back of it, " The truth of Christianity 
demonstrated — the truth of Christianity demonstrated 
— well if it is, I ought to believe it and live it, and — 
I WILL. Let me try the book and see." Sitting down, 
at that point, he opened the book and began to read, 
and though it was an argument only, giving no par- 
ticular appeal to feeling, he was surprised to find a 
strange brightness of light on the words. Holy con- 
viction flowed in upon him, a wondrous love waked up 
in his feeling, a still more wondrous bliss dawned upon 
his love, and in a very few minutes, it seemed that the 
helm of his nature was somehow taken by a mysterious 
power he could not resist. The joy of the change, 
which he did not understand, or conceive, was so great 
as to prove its reality ; he could never, from that mo- 
ment, shake off the conviction of his being quite 
another man. What it was to be a Christian he did not 
know, but he knew that h.e was something, which to 
lose, or cease to be, he could as little think of as losing 
his life. When the riding party came back, he began 
forthwith to let out his joy, tell his wonder, testify of 
Christ, just as he would of any good, gay time he 
had had before. They were astonished, some of them 
doubted whether he was not somehow beside himself. 
But there was no slack in his flame, he went on like the 
just, growing brighter and brighter. There was no ap- 
pearance of sanctimony, no cant, he was the same 
outspoken, social, manly youth, that he had been. 
Hungering finally after some religious society, he man- 

17* 



198 INTEGRITY AND GRACE. 

aged to remove to Philadelphia, where he found teach- 
ing and sympathy, and great works of duty. He went 
once to the theater, once to a ball, having no scruples 
about the right of it, and scarce knowing that he could 
have. But he never went again, simply because it did 
not meet his feeling, and gave him no pleasure. He 
finally came to a settlement in New York, where he was 
known many years as a man of dignity and power, 
nobly free and joyous, fond of the young, and open to 
all humblest minds wanting counsel, the most distin- 
guished mark, and brightest ornament ever known in 
the churches of that great city. From first to last his 
Christian life was but a hymn. 

At what point now did this remarkable servant of 
God pass his conversion ? Not when he was reading 
the book, but when he was looking on the back of it ; 
for there it was, in that little deliberation on the label, 
and the nobly honest conclusion he accepted concerning 
it, that his soul took hold of integrity, and sin was all 
reversed ! The mere resolve to accept it, if true, de- 
cided all. And therefore it was that Christ met him in 
the book, with a revelation so blessed. Doubtless it 
was the Spirit of Grod, working unseen, that drew him 
out in the previous parley on the label ; and every step 
of the change, nay, of his whole life, was in some sense, 
worked by a power superior to his own mere will. 
And yet he had a will, by that consented to believe 
what is true, and live it in his life. 

Now there is no man in this audience, however 
remote he may have been from the thought of being a 



INTEGRITY AND GRACE. 199 

Christian, when he came into this place of worship to- 
day, who has any thing more to do, in order to be one, 
than to just come into the same really honest mind. 
You can not will to believe what is true, and do all 
right, as fast as you can find it and forever, and go out 
hence in your sins. Are you not ready my friends for 
this new and nobler kind of life ? Can you lie down to- 
night and sleep outside of this blessed integrity ? How 
can you think of yourself with respect, as not being 
a Christian, when that which is demanded of you is 
only what you think you are demanding of everybody. 
True, this integrity we speak of is of a higher kind, and 
more real ; is it therefore less to be honored, and less 
promptly chosen ? 

And now in conclusion of my subject, I will only lay 
down God's indorsement upon it and upon all that I 
have said, in a single, but remarkable sentence of scrip- 
ture. I wish it might be remembered, and stay by you 
always, even from this hour till your last — "For the 
eyes of the Lord run to and fro, through the whole 
earth, to show himself strong in behalf of them whose 
heart is perfect toward Him." This "perfect heart" 
means a right conscience, a clean, simple intent. And 
the substance of the declaration is, that God is on the look- 
out always for an honest man — him to help, and with 
him, and for him, to be strong. And if there be one, 
that God will not miss of him ; for his desiring, all- 
searching eyes are running the world through always 
to find him. And when he finds him, he will show 
himself to him in the discovery even of his strength. 



200 INTEGRITY AND GRACE. 

I believe that he has sometimes found such a man, even 
in the depths of heathenism, and to him been discov- 
ered as the helping and strong friend he longed for. 
Many a skeptic has he flooded with light, because he 
saw him willing, at last, to be right, and hungering for 
something true. This perfect heart, this soul of integ- 
rity, my friends — if we had but this, what else could 
we fail of? I repeat the word thus explained — put it 
down to be with you, in your struggles with sin, your 
sickness, your poverty, your Christian defects and dry- 
nesses, all the mind-clouds, all the guilt-clouds, of your 
mortal state — "For the eyes of the Lord run to and 
fro through the whole earth to show himself strong in 
behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him." 



X. 

LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 



11 As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they can 
not fast But the days will come, when the bridegroom 
shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in 
those days" — Mark ii, 19. 

It is one of the honorable distinctions of Christ's doc- 
trine that he is never one-sided ; never taken, as men 
are, with a half- view of a subject, or a half-truth con- 
cerning it. If there is, for example, a free side, or free 
element, in Christian life and experience, and also a 
restrictive side ; conditions and times of not fasting, 
and conditions and times of fasting ; he does not fall to 
setting one against the other, but he comprehends both, 
and holds them in a true adjustment of their offices and 
relations. John's disciples come to him in the question, 
why he does not put his disciples to fasting, as their 
own great prophet and the Pharisees do theirs? But 
instead of making light of fasting, and calling it an old, 
ascetic practice, now gone by, as many human teachers 
would have done, seeing only half the truth, and rally- 
ing a party for the part they see, he simply replies — 
"everything in its time; the attendants of the bride- 



202 LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 

groom will, of course be wholly in the festive mood, 
while the wedding is on foot, but when it is over, they 
will fall into such other key as their personal condition 
requires. My disciples can not fast while I am with 
them. But when I am taken up they will turn them- 
selves to such ways of fasting as their deprivation, or 
bereaved feeling requires." 

His answer, taken more spiritually, amounts to this : 
that when the love is full, and the soul is consciously 
gladclened by the present witness and felt impulse of 
God, any kind of restrictive, or severely self-compelling 
discipline is inappropriate or uncalled for, and is really 
out of place; but that when there is a failure of such 
divine impulse, when the soul is losing ground, brought 
under by temptation, groping in dryness and obscurity 
of light, then some sharp revision of the life, some new 
girding up of the will in sacrifice and self-discipline, is 
urgently demanded, and must not be declined. In other 
words, let there be liberty in God while there may, 
girding up in ourselves, by forced exercise and disci- 
pline, when there must ; let the soul go by inspiration 
when the gale of the Spirit is in it, and when it has any 
way stifled or lost the Spirit, let it put itself down upon 
duty by the will ; when the divine movement is upon 
it, let it have its festal day with the bridegroom, and 
when the better presence fades or vanishes, let it set 
itself to ways of self-compulsion, moving from its own 
human center. 

Much the same general truth though differently con- 
ceived, is taught by Paul when he represents the Chris- 



LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 203 

tian soul as a coin having two seals or mottoes, on the 
two sides ; on the obverse, or face — " The Lord know- 
eth them that are his;" on the reverse, or back — "Let 
every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from 
iniquity." It is as if divine calling, endowment, and 
help were on one side ; self-discipline, watching, mor- 
tified lusting, and steady resolve on the other. 

Liberty and discipline, movement from God's center 
and movement from our own, sanctified inclination and 
self-compelling will, are the two great factors thus of 
Christian life and experience. "We may figure, in a 
certain coarse analogy, that we live in a city having two 
supplies of water for its aqueduct; one upon high 
ground back of it, whence the water runs down freely 
along the inclinations of the surfaces ; and the other in 
some lake or river on its front ; whence, in case that 
fails, or the ducts give way, a supply is to be received 
by forcing, or the dead lift of the pump. The water, 
however, is not created in this latter case, you will ob- 
serve, by the enforcement, but is taken, as in the former, 
from the general supply of nature's store. So there are 
ways of Christian living, where every thing goes by im- 
pulse, and a gracious inspiration, flowing in, as it were, 
by its own free motion ; and other ways and times, 
where a self-compelling discipline of sacrifice and pains- 
taking are wanted to regain the irrigating grace that 
was practically lost or shut away, by moods of incon- 
stancy and mixtures of subjection to evil. 

It is very obvious that both these conceptions may 
be abused, or pushed to excess, as in fact they always 



204 LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 

are when they are taken apart from each other, and 
made a religion of. Thus we shall have, on one side, 
just what has many times appeared in this or that vari- 
ety, a school of enthusiasts, living only in frames and 
for them, flighty, rhapsodical, ecstatic, moving in the 
upper air on wings, till such time as they get weary of 
their thin element, and consent, for comforts' sake, to 
light upon the ground ; when, of course, they do as the 
prophet's living creatures did — "when they stood 
they let down their wings." Perhaps they will spread 
them again, and perhaps not. They are all for inspira- 
tion, or the state of divine impulse, and nothing else is 
to be much accounted of. To be in this elysian state is 
piety, and if they chance to fall out of it, or sink away, 
flagging and spent, as regards their good excitabilities, 
they have no way of going on foot to think of, that 
will prove their fidelity, and put them in a sober 
way of blessing. They have no conception of a walk- 
ing with God that is not flying with him, and their 
high movement commonly ends, where dissipation 
must, in a state of loose keeping, disability, and general 
collapse. 

On the other side, where every thing takes the shape 
of will-work and discipline, the result will commonly 
be quite as bad. Sometimes the word will be activity, 
and a general campaign of doing will set every thing 
in a way of tumult, and aggressive motion. Kesponsi- 
ble only for action, action will come to be just the thing 
most irresponsibly done. Hard, graceless, censorious, 
denunciatory, sometimes wild, and always unchastened 



LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 205 

by the love it magnifies, it keeps the conflagration up 
till the combustible matter is burned away, and then 
the fire goes out of course. Sometimes the word is 
sacrifice, and then comes on the dreary train of pen- 
ances, vigils, vows of celibacy, mendicancy, and the 
pallid funeral hosts marching out alive to be entombed 
in cells. All these, making up a religion by their will, 
and the drill of their passionless obedience, agree, in 
fact, to make as hard a time of it as possible, and they 
will most fatally succeed; for it can not be long, ere the 
discipline they covet as a religion, breaks down both 
will and principle together, and shows them, alas! too 
perfect in the training of uncharity, mendacity, sensu- 
ality, and lust. 

I ought also, perhaps, to name two counterfeits that 
cover the ground of both these particular excesses. 
Thus, on one side, the argument will be, " why should I 
do, or attempt to do in religion, what I can not do in 
liberty, or from inclination ? When I am not inclined 
to prayer why should I pray ? Why cross myself in 
duties which I only dislike ? Why put myself under 
service by rules that only annoy me, and do not- bless 
me ? How can I imagine that Grod is pleased with me, 
when he finds me doing by compulsion, what he knows 
I distaste, and have really no heart to?" 

The assumption is, in this way of speaking, that 
when there is real inclination to the thing done, there is 
even something a little remarkable in it ; a kind of su- 
perlative, or superfine, merit, such as discharges all 
thought of obligation respecting duties where such in- 

18 



206 LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 

clination fails. And jet the supposed inclination, hav- 
ing so great value as to excuse all responsibility for 
inclination where there is none, is even understood to 
be nothing but an occasional glow of sentiment or de- 
sire, in the plane of nature; not any really divine or 
supernaturally inbreathed impulse. It is not of the 
bridegroom, raises no thought of any festal flow, in 
which Christ bathes their feeling. It is even the end 
of the law, without Christ, in a much more summary 
and complete sense that Christ himself could be ; for it 
not only discharges all obligation, but forbids any far- 
ther command — how can God command what one is not 
inclined to already ? and what he is inclined to needs, 
of course, no command. 

The counterfeit upon the other side, is that self-reli- 
ant morality, which counts it a sufficient, or even a 
rather superlative religion, to live in correct practice 
under rules, and makes nothing of receiving from (rod, 
or being in any consciously restored relationship with 
him. Christ is engaged as a Saviour, I conceive, to 
connect human nature with God, according to its nor- 
mal idea, and have it regenerated, as by God's restored 
movement in it — born of God. He wants to raise 
again the very plane of our existence, lifting us up out 
of mere self-hood into a state of divine consciousness 
and beatitude. This to him and this only is religion. 
The beaver is not more certainly below humanity, than 
the footing it along by mere rules, is a kind of life be- 
low the grade of religion, or concourse with God. That 
high world of blessing too, for which Christ has under- 



LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 207 

taken to prepare us, is not a world of good morals, but 
of godly affinities and free inspirations, moved, and 
lifted, and wafted, and glorified, and always to reign in 
God. 

We have then two conceptions of Christian life and 
experience, which Christ holds comprehensively to- 
gether, but which his disciples are often trying to hold 
separately, making a whole religion of either one or the 
other; and then we have a counterfeit of each, con- 
triving how to make a religion of each, without the 
reality of either one or the other. Let us see now if 
we can bring ourselves back into the conception of 
Christ, and find how to hold with him both the two 
sides at once ; setting both in that genuine mutual rela- 
tionship that belongs to them. There is then 

I. A ruling conception of the Christian life, which is 
called having the bridegroom present ; a state of right 
inclination established, in. which the soul has an imme- 
diate knowledge, or consciousness of God, and is 
swayed in liberty, by His all-moving, supernatural, 
inspirations. This kind of state, if it were complete, as 
it never is in this world, would, of itself, be the all of 
perfection arid of blessedness. The whole aim of Chris- 
tianity is fulfilled in this alone. No other kind of ser- 
vice, taken by itself, at all meets the Christian idea. 
Self-compelling ways of discipline, resolve, self-regula- 
tion, body-government, soul -government, carried on by 
the will may be wanted — I shall presently show in 
what manner — but no possible amount of such doings 
can make up a Christian virtue, and, if such virtue 



208 LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 

were perfect, they would not even be included in it. 
Every thing in genuine Christianity goes for the free 
inclination. Here begins the true nobility or princely 
rank of God's sons and daughters, and they will be 
complete, when their inclination is wholly to good and 
to God. They strike the point of magnanimity, when 
they do the right, as God does, because they simply 
love the right — bearing burdens, because it is the nature 
of love to bear them, making sacrifices, never from 
fear, interest, self-consideration, always for God's great 
ends of mercy and blessing. The bridegroom joy is 
now upon them, because their duty is become their fes- 
tivity with Christ. Perfected in this duty and joy, 
they are complete in God's everlasting beatitude; for 
there is no wear of friction in such duty, but eternal 
liberty and play rather. What then 

II. Is the place, or office, or value of that whole side 
of will and self-discipline, which Christ himself assumes 
the need of, when the bridegroom is to be taken away? 
Here is the main stress of our subject, and upon the 
right solution of this point, its uses will principally 
depend. 

There is then, I undertake to s&y, one general purpose, 
or office, in all doings of will, on the human side of Chris- 
tian experience, viz., the ordering of the soul in fit position 
for God, that he may occupy it, have it in his power, sway 
it by his inspirations. No matter what the kind of doing 
to which we are called, or commanded ; whether it be 
self-government, or self-renunciation, or holy resolve, or 
fasting, or steadfast waiting, the end is one and the 



LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 209 

same, the getting in position for God's occupancy. As 
the navigator of a ship does nothing for the voyage, 
save what he does by setting the ship to her § course, and 
her sails to the wind, so our human doings in religion, 
those I mean, which make up our self-compelling, self- 
adjusting, self-constraining discipline, are all to be con- 
cerned in setting us before God, in the way to receive 
the actuating impulse of his will and character. "We 
are not called, of course, to work a religion thus, our- 
selves, or by our own will. Setting sails to the wind 
does not propel the ship, or give it the least onward 
movement, as regards the voyage; and yet, without 
such holding of it in position, the voyage could never 
be made. So also a seed must have position, else it 
can not grow ; if it is laid on a rock, or buried in sand, 
or sunk in water, or frozen up in ice, it will be inert as 
a stone ; but in good warm soil, and sun, and rain, and 
dew, it will quicken easily enough, because it is in po- 
sition. A tree will die out of position, a clock will 
stop out of position, a plough wants holding, a saw 
wants guiding, a compass wants setting; nothing in the 
world works rightly that has not position given it. 
And the reason is that every thing to be operated upon 
must be fitly presented to that which operates ; tele- 
scopes to their objects, mills to water-falls, and souls to 
God. 

And here is our particular human part in religion — 
all that we can do is summed up in self-presentation to 
God, or the putting of ourselves in position for his ope- 
ration. Hence the call to salvation is "come," and the 

18* 



210 LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 

complaint is, " ye will not come to me that ye might 
have life." So also, when the casting down of pride 
and self-will is required, the forsaking of all things, the 
yielding up of life and whatever is most dear, these 
ways of self-renunciation are only the taking down of 
bars that fence away God's entrance and free move- 
ment from the soul. Faith again is made the condition 
of salvation, in just this view, and no other ; because, 
when a sinning soul trusts itself up to Christ, to be 
cared for, regenerated in good, and saved by his mercy, 
it is put in exactly the position toward God that is most 
open, and admits him most freely ; even as the brazen 
serpent, lifted up before Israel, was to be effective in 
their healing, when looked upon. Out of position, 
with their backs toward it, there was no virtue to be 
received from it, because there was none expected or 
admitted. 

So it is in the matter always of conversion, or the 
beginning of a new life — it is always begun, just as 
soon as the subject comes into position far enough to let 
it be. And then the same holds true of all proper 
Christian doings afterward — they are all summed up, 
either in keeping position toward God, or in regaining 
it after it is lost. Thus, if by reason of a still partially 
remaining subjection to evil, the soul should be stolen 
away from its fidelity and the nuptial day of its liberty 
should somehow be succeeded by a void, dry state,- 
without any proper light or evidence left, then the dis- 
ciple has it given him to recover himself, by getting 
himself in position again before God. He will take 



LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 211 

time by forcible resolve, and gird himself to a careful 
revision. He will set himself upon his idols to clear 
them away, take up his cross invoking sacrifice itself to 
be his helper, rectify his misjudgments, make good his 
injuries, slay his resentments and grudges, mortify his 
appetites, crucify his bosom sins, tear open all the sub- 
tleties of distemper and treason — watching all the while 
his new beginnings, saving carefully his little advances, 
doing first works humbly and tenderly, and by this 
drawing into position, will, if possible, make ready for 
the festal coming of his Lord, and the restored liberty 
of a son. 

In this kind of struggle the disciple will get on 
most effectively, when for the time, he is much by 
himself, and much apart from the world, and even its 
pleasurable scenes and gifts. In one view, there will 
be a certain violence, or desperation sometimes in the 
fight of his repentances. "For behold what careful- 
ness it wrought in you ; yea what clearing of your- 
selves ; yea what indignation ; yea what fear ; yea what 
vehement desire; yea what zeal; yea what revenge." 
By these stern rigors of will, these mighty throes of 
battle, the disciple out of liberty will in fact be only 
putting himself in position to recover it. He takes 
himself in hand in fiery self-chastening, and rigidly en- 
forced subjection, that he may prepare himself to God's 
help. He gets confidence in this manner, by his thor- 
oughness, to believe that God accepts him, and has the 
testimony given him that he pleases God. Eestored in 
this manner to his liberty, the enemy that came in at the 



212 LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 

postern goes out at the front, and God again will have 
his full dominion. 

Neither let any one object that all such stresses and 
strains of endeavor must be without merit, because they 
are forced and are, in one sense, without inclination. 
Such kind of endeavor God honors because it is prac- 
tical, and not for the merit of it. What should he 
more certainly honor than the true endeavor of souls 
to present themselves to him, and get position for the 
complete admission of his will. If these struggles of 
enforcement do not belong to the perfect state of good, 
it must be enough that they are struggles after that 
state. God is practical, and without prudishness; if 
nothing is really good to him that is not from the heart's 
inclination, he will yet be drawn to such struggles 
against inclination, as he is to the cries of the ravens, 
and will put his benediction upon them, under that 
same fatherly impulse, if no other. 

Holy scripture has no such dainty way of reasoning 
in this matter, as they give us, who, by affected rever- 
ence, excuse themselves from all rough discipline, be- 
cause they have no inclination for it. It even com- 
mands us to serve, when we are not in a key to reign. 
" Mortify therefore, your members which are upon the 
earth" — do men mortify themselves by inclination? 
"Ye have crucified the flesh with its affections and 
lusts" — do we this self-crucifying by inclination? 
"Deny thyself, take up thy cross" — do we deny our- 
selves by inclination, or take up the cross for inclina- 
tion's sake ? When Christ again, to get a certain rich 



LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 213 

moralist or formalist into position for God, bids him sell 
all that he has and give to the poor and come and fol- 
low — whereupon he "goes away sorrowful" — does 
the sad questioner sorrow because he is required to 
have his inclination ? The Saviour too has even a more 
cutting requirement than this — " And if thy right eye 
offend thee pluck it out ; if thy right hand offend thee 
cut it off." Is there any thing in which we are farther 
off from inclination, than in plucking out right eyes and 
cutting off right hands? What in fact is the very 
point of the Saviour's meaning here but to say, put 
your will down upon whatever is hardest and most 
against your inclinations — any thing for position. 

How feeble, superficial, sophistical, and withal, how 
very like to a practical mockery of all deep movement 
in religion is that word so often ventured, and of which 
I have already spoken — " Why should I pray when I 
do not feel inclined to it? Why should I go to church, 
why should I read the scriptures, why should I give 
alms, why should I hold myself to observances, all 
which I am weary of, and in fact really dislike ? If I 
can not offer Grod from the heart, what better is my 
offering given than withheld ? Just contrary to all such 
feeble platitudes Christ, we have seen, appoints a 
grandly rugged, thoroughly real, massive, discipline, 
by which souls, at best only half inserted into good are 
to hold on their way, and press themselves down upon 
the constancy their fickle hearts would fly. Filling 
them to the full, if he possibly may with holy inspira- 
tions and loving impulses, he counts even this a gospel 



214 LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 

on one foot, if tie may not also put them every man 
to a hard fight of discipline, and watch, and drill and 
resisting even unto blood. When the inspiration is 
upon them, he will let the festive movement flow in its 
liberty. And when the grace-power lulls or is gone, he' 
will have them take their turn of discipline, to gather 
up by their will, and bring into position for God's occu- 
pancy, all their vagrant and unsteady functions ; so to 
strengthen the things that remain and are ready to die. 
These two things, in fact, he will hold, if possible, at 
all times, to a close and practically guarded comprehen- 
sion, the festive and the restrictive, the movement of 
love and the self-girding watch. 

But I should not produce any just impression of the im- 
mense reach of this very practical matter — the so ordering 
of our life, on the side of self-discipline, as to be always 
squaring ourselves to God, and holding true position 
before Him — if I did not specify some of the humbler 
and more common matters in which it is to be, or may 
be, done. 

Order, for example — how great a thing is it for a 
Christian, or indeed, for any one, to keep his life and 
practice and business in the terms of order ? Holding 
himself steady, and squaring his habit thus carefully 
by system in God's will, his very order is itself posi- 
tion — the orbit he traverses having God to trav- 
erse it with him ; and the worlds of the sky will not be 
more surely and steadily moved in their rounds, than 
he by God's impelling liberty. Fallen out .of this 
order into all disorder and confusion, how can he ever 



LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 215 

be in position for God, till he comes back into the ex- 
actness and true discipline of the same ? 

A responsible way has the same kind of value. An 
irresponsible man has no place for God or God's liberty. 
But a soul that stays fast in concern for all good things — 
responsible for the church, for the brethren, for the wel- 
fare and salvation of perishing • men, for the vices and 
woes of society, for the good of the country — is just so 
far in position with God, and ready for his best in- 
spirations. God loves responsible men, and delights 
to keep them in the full endowment of strength and 
liberty. 

Openness and boldness for God, the readiness to be 
found on God's side in the full acknowledgment of his 
name and people, is an absolute requisite, as regards the 
effective revelation of God in the soul. Whoever will 
not thus acknowledge God, in a bold commitment of 
himself before the world to his cause, wants the firm 
courage and manly truth of feeling which puts him in 
position. Eeal and bold devotement is magnanimity, 
and where there is nothing of one, there is nothing of 
the other — as little receptivity therefore for God. God 
loves to be trusted, and loves the men that can boldly 
take their part with him. When they stand openly for 
his name, he stands by them, and puts his might upon 
them. 

Descending to what is in a still humbler key, let me 
speak of honesty — how a large and faithfully complete 
honesty puts every soul in true position before God. A 
single eye — that is honesty; and "if thine eye be sin- 



216 LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 

gle, thy whole body shall be full of light." But the 
honesty of which I thus speak, is more and higher, you 
will observe, than mere commercial honesty. That will 
do justice to customers and laws of trade, but not to 
enemies, and least of all, to God. There is no reality 
in it therefore, more than there would be in doing jus- 
tice to customers of one country, or color, and not to 
those of another. Called honesty in the market, it still 
may, and, many times, certainly is, hypocrisy and a lie. 
Real honesty takes in principle, engaging to do justice 
every where, every way, every day, and specially to 
God's high truth and God. 0, what a presentation that 
to invite the incoming of God ! Who is in position for 
God but he that will clear himself, thus impartially, of 
every wrong and injury ; and how certainly will God's 
spirit flow into such a bosom, in how full a tide of lib- 
erty ! How completely open here is the gate of possi- 
bility for all greatest and divinest things ! 

I could speak of things yet humbler and more com- 
mon; such, for example, as dress and society. These 
are matters which we commonly put even outside of 
the pale of religious concern, or responsibility. And 
yet there is how much in them to fix the soul's position 
toward God. How perfectly evident is it that one may 
dress for the Holy Spirit and the modest opening of the 
soul to God's manifestation ; or so as to quite shut away 
any possible visitation from the divine. In the same 
way, society may be observed in such a way of sobriety 
and grandly true hospitality, that angels, much more 
Christ and God, will gather to it unawares ; or in such 



LIBERTY ASB DISCIPLINE. 217 

a way of ambition, flashiness, and worldly assumption, 
that the Holy Spirit can not get room in it for any 
smallest dispensation of his gracious impulse. I speak 
not here for any sumptuary, or morbidly scrupulous, re- 
striction. I only say that there may be enough, in the 
modes of dress and society, to quite settle the matter of 
the soul's position toward God. 

Not pursuing these illustrations further, it must be 
enough that we have found, and practically verified 
two elements in Christian life and experience, liberty 
and discipline, God's free movement and our own self- 
constraining will. That is the heavenly state of bless- 
ing and perfection ; this our human concern to get, as in 
conversion, recover, as in dryness and decay, or keep, as 
in all most ordinary goings on of life, the position toward 
God that commands his bestowment of the other. 

But what, of fasting? the very thing about which my 
text is itself concerned, and about which I have said as 
nearly nothing as possible. In one view it is even so ; 
in another I have been speaking of nothing else ; for 
the whole course of argument pursued has been tracing- 
its fit place and relationship, as an integral part, or fac- 
tor, of the true Christian discipline. 

Are we then to allow, some will ask, that fasting be- 
longs to Christianity? I certainly think so. Did not 
Christ himself declare that his disciples should fast 
after he was gone? Did he not also begin his great 
ministry, by a protracted fast, which duly considered, 
and rightly conceived, constitutes one of the grandest 
19 



218 LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 

and most impressive chapters of his story? It is easy, 
doubtless, to assume, in self-compliment, that we have 
now come to an age of maturity that permits us to con- 
ceive the Christian grace more worthily ; but no such 
assumption will be very impressive as against the ex- 
ample of Christ himself! Some will also maintain, 
more argumentatively, that fasting is a bodily penance, 
excluded by the genius of Christianity; but when 
Christ is heard, in his great, first, sermon, discoursing 
of it just as he does of prayer and of alms, and giving 
it exactly the same promise of reward, the conclusion 
appears to be not far off that, either they do not, or 
Christ did not, understand Christianity ! 

It is a great mistake of many, in our time, that 
they are so easily carried by a certain half-illuminated 
declamation against asceticism. Let us have nerve 
enough to withstand the odiuni of a word, and be less 
superficial, and just as much stronger in our practical 
life. For there is — I put the issue boldly that it may 
not be missed — a good asceticism that belongs to Chris- 
tianity, as a worthy and even rationally integral func- 
tion ; the same which an apostle describes when he 
says, "I exercise myself (atfxw) to have a conscience 
void of offense." By which he means that he puts 
himself to it by the direct training of his will, even as 
a rider trains a horse by the rein. 

In this good asceticism, we take ourselves away 
purposely, when it seems to be needed, from soci- 
ety, from gain, and from animal indulgence, that 
we may assert, with more emphasis, the principle of 



LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 219 

self-subjection to God, or gird ourselves anew to the 
divine keeping. Thrusting down a whole side of our 
nature that habitually assumes to be uppermost, we get 
in this manner a powerful shove of reaction ; for the 
great law of action and reaction holds universally, both 
in the worlds of matter and mind. In this manner 
painstaking itself is a great element of success; not 
because it is the taking of so much pain, as if there 
were some merit in that, but because the mind gets a 
confidence of honest meaning in it, such as nerves the 
soul to sacrifice, and gives it assurance with God. 
Christianity, as I have shown, takes in this element. 
Filling us with great inspirations, it puts us to a stout 
self-discipline also, that we may get position for still 
greater, and a still more victorious liberty. 

Over against this good asceticism, there is also a 
false and a bad, as already intimated. It makes a vir- 
tue of self-torment, contrives artificial distresses to 
move on God's pity, or pacify his resentments, or pur- 
chase his favor. It macerates the body to make the 
soul weak and tender. It dispenses, in fact, with 
faith itself, and even thinks to square its account 
with God, by a due contribution of bodily pains and 
privations. 

This bad asceticism we exclude, the good we accept. 
And in this, we shall train ourselves, sometimes even 
naturally, by a fast. If we are mortified by the dis- 
covery that the body is getting uppermost, if our 
Sundays are choked, our great sentiments stifled, by 
indulgences of the body we meant not to allow, we 



220 LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 

shall turn upon it in this good asceticism, and say to it, 
with a meaning — "I keep under the body." In the 
same way; if we can not find how to bear an enemy, if 
we recoil from sacrifices that are plainly laid upon us, 
if we have no great courage to meet a great call, we 
shall emulate the example of Cromwell's soldiers, who 
conquered first the impassive state, by their fastings 
and prayers, and then sailing into battle as men iron- 
clad, conquered also their enemies; or better still, we 
shall emulate those martyrs, who could sing in the crisp 
of their bodies, because they had trained their bodies 
to serve. So again if we are losing ground, getting 
under the world, heated by prosperity, soured by disap- 
pointment, bittered by resentments and grudges, we 
shall do well to seek the wilderness, taking our tempta- 
tion with us to be mastered.- So again if we have some 
great crisis upon us, even as our Master had, some turn 
of life to settle that will settle every thing ; or if we 
have great endowments coming upon us, or coming out 
in us, that we must be responsible for — property, place, 
eloquence, fame, beauty, genius — what a girding do we 
need to meet our occasions, or even to effectually stifle 
the nonsense of pride and foolish suggestion. 0, if we 
could set ourselves in position thus for God's call and 
his Christly inspirations, how cheap the discipline 
would be. 

Observed on occasions like these, a fast will some- 
times wonderfully clear the atmosphere of the mind. 
The sentiments will be quickened in their play. The 
imagination, which is a great organ for religion, will 



LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 221 

get a more reverberative ring. The conscience will be- 
come at once more rigid and more tender. All the 
powers will be girded up, and God will have the soul 
in position, waiting to be rilled with his eternal life and 
vigor. 

No such good results of fasting will follow, or will 
be expected, where it is improperly observed. No one 
should ever go into a fast, when he has the bridegroom 
consciously with him. Such fasting is untimely. Turn- 
ing sunshine inco night, and making misery gratis, when 
we are not miserable, is any thing but Christian, though 
alas ! some very good people do sometimes make a merit 
of it. 

Some persons, who are not practiced in the art, so to 
speak, of fasting, complain that they are only troubled 
and mentally confused by their hunger, and get no ad- 
vantage from it. But when they have learned the way 
to set their mind facing Godward, instead of facing the 
body, and moving in the low range of the gastric energy, 
it will not be so — they will even forget to be hungry. It 
might be well for such to begin with a prolonged half- 
fast, or Lenten reduction, instead of abstinence." Feeding 
the body circumspectly thus, as between cage bars, they 
may still the growling of nature, and learn, at last how to 
get a spring of reaction for the mind. A prolonged bri- 
dle check upon the body is good both for it and for the 
rider ; for what both most especially need is to get ac- 
customed to the rein! 

At the same time, fasting should always be a reality, 
never a semblance. To pretend a fast, when all the 
19* 



222 LIBEETY AND DISCIPLINE. 

routine of table, office, and shop, is still going on as 
usual, is to make a cheat of it ; such as takes away the 
mind's honor, and leaves a most sorry conviction of hy- 
pocrisy in place of any benefit. But let no one make 
the fast excessive under pretense of making it real. It 
should never amount to a maceration of the body ; 
though sometimes the benefit gained by a disciple will 
even tempt him to make a luxury of it. Let it be 
a rule that the fasting should never be more fre- 
quent or more stringent, than is necessary to maintain, 
for the long run of time, the very clearest, strongest, 
healthiest, condition both of mind and body. For the 
digestive function wants its Sabbaths, just as truly as 
any other, and will keep the soundest health when it 
has them. 

Instead of recoiling now, my brethren from this more 
rugged kind of discipline, there ought even to be a fascina- 
tion in the severities of it. As it is profoundly real and 
earnest, it will also make us strong. How often are we 
oppressed with the feeling that our modern piety wants 
depth and spiritual richness. It is as if it were in the 
skin and not in the heart — thin, flashy, flavorless, desti- 
tute of the heroic and sturdy qualities. It never can 
be otherwise, till we consent to endure some hardness, 
or at least to find some way of painstaking. The gym- 
nastic we are in must be strong enough to make muscle, 
else we shall not have it. Hence the profound neces- 
sity, as I conceive, that there should be an ascetic side 
or element in this free salvation, where the disciple 
" exercises himself," as the apostle has it, putting him- 



LIBEKTY AND DISCIPLINE. 223 

self in training and self-chastening for success. For as 
the competitors in games of wrestling, and rowing, and 
racing, do not despise the toughest severities of train- 
ing for the victory, no more should the Christian repel 
that nobler discipline that is to be the girding of his 
character. It would not do, for a way of grace, to only 
fondle or codle us, in tenderings of favor and soft 
mercy and overflowing bounty ; we could not be float- 
ed into the heights of character by any such gentle 
tide-swing as many look for, and conceive to be the 
grace offered to their faith. Such a kind of treatment 
qualified by nothing more sturdy and severe, might 
even soften the brain of our piety. No, there must be 
an ascetic self-girding for us, as well as a gracious im- 
pulsion, something which is more than fasting, but of 
which that is a type. There needs to be a side of tough 
endeavor, in which we undertake a mighty becoming, 
even punishing ourselves, so to speak, into right posi- 
tion for God. We must come into the vise of a rugged 
and fiery self- discipline, where, if we wince for the severi- 
ties suffered, we still forbid our cowardly, soft, nature 
to yield. If there is to be any fibre in our character, 
there must be a Spartan discipline to make it. There 
was never a strong Christian, or a Christian hero, that 
did not put himself to being a Christian with cost. 
To be merely wooed by grace, and tenderly dewed by 
sentiment, makes a Christian mushroom, not a Chris- 
tian man. It is even difficult to conceive, how those 
angels that excel in strength, and are called the char- 
riots of God, ever got their vigor without some fit 



224 LIBERTY AND DISCIPLINE. 

training ; nay, it is most certain that they never did. 
So much meaning has our master, when charging it 
upon us, again and again, without our once conceiv- 
ing possibly what depth of meaning he would have us 
find in his words — Deny thyself, take up thy cross and 
follow me. 



XI. 

CHRIST'S AGONY, OR MORAL SUFFERING. 



"And being in an agony he 'prayed more earnestly, 
and his sweat was, as it ivere, great drops of blood fall- 
ing down to the ground. 11 — Luke xxii, 44. 

What Christian has not many times wished that he 
could lay hold of the precise condition and feeling of 
Jesus, in this very remarkable scene or chapter, com- 
monly called his agony? And yet a suspicion may 
well be indulged that we not seldom push it quite 
away from us, and make it unrealizable, by dogmatic 
solutions that rather confound than solve it. Mystery, 
in some sense, it certainly is, and must be ; for the per- 
son itself of Christ is, internally viewed, a mystery, and 
the what and how, of his personal pains, in what part 
they affect him, under what laws of intensity, and by 
what internal force he is able to support them, we can 
never know, till we understand his psychology itself — 
as we certainly shall not here on earth. 

Still the agony is given us, because it can somehow 
be seen to be for us; yielding impressions of Christ 
and of God, manifested in him, which it is important for 
us to receive. And to receive these impressions from 



226 chkis't's agony, 

it is, at least so far, to understand it. All the more to 
be regretted is it, if we interpose theologic construc- 
tions that make it impossible to all receptive sympathy. 
Thus if we conceive, or dogmatically assume, that 
Christ is in this hour of distress, because the sin of the 
world is upon him, to be punitively treated in his per- 
son ; that God withdraws judicially from him, to make 
him suffer, and that the " cup " over which he groans is 
the cup of God's eternal indignations; may it not be 
that we ourselves so far violate the subject matter, as to 
make it an offense to our most inborn convictions of 
right, and raise up mutinous questions that even forbid 
the discovery of its meaning to our hearts ? 

A much less artificial, tenderer, and, I think I shall 
be able to show, truer and more affecting conception of 
the agony is, that it rises naturally out of the perfect 
feeling, and the personal relations and exigences of 
the sufferer. Such a being, on such a mission, meeting 
such objects of feeling, at such a crisis, will have just 
this agony, without any infliction to produce it. 

The facts of the scene briefly and freely related are 
these. The Saviour, attended by his disciples, goes up 
into a dell on the slope of Olivet, and enters a certain 
garden or olive yard, where he had often before com- 
muned with them apart. He requires them to sit down. 
But there is something peculiar in his manner. A feel- 
ing of depression makes him droop in his action, and 
gives a drooping accent to his voice. He signifies to 
three of their number that he wants their company 



OR MORAL SUFFERING. 227 

while lie goes forward a little way, to pray. Hereto- 
fore he has commonly sought to be alone in prayer, 
going apart at dead of night, and ascending this or that 
high mountain top, there to be closeted with God in 
solitude. The depression that before appeared now be- 
comes a crushing weight upon him. In the language 
of the narrative, he begins to be sorrowful and very 
heavy. He speaks too, unable to suppress his feeling — 
"My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." 
And then he adds what indicates even greater anguish, 
such as almost takes away his self-possession — " do not 
leave me, do not sleep, stay here and watch with me!" 
He goes forward a few steps, falling upon his face, 
which is the eastern posture of extreme sorrow and 
despair, and there he cries aloud — " my Father, if it 
be possible, let this cup pass from me." He rises and 
turns back to his friends, but the weight is still heavy 
on his heart, and he throws himself again upon his face. 
And he does it again, even a third time. There is also 
given us, in the narrative made out by Luke, the patho- 
logy of his feeling — 'And being in an agony, he prayed 
more earnestly, and his sweat was, as it were, great 
drops of blood falling down to the ground." Which 
is the same as to say, that the agony of feeling he was 
in was so intense that, under the laws of bodily affec- 
tion, there were forced out, through the pores of the 
skin, large drops resembled to blood. An ancient wri- 
ter reports the fact of a bloody sweat, or a sweat ex- 
ceeding like to blood, produced by the bite in India of 
a poisonous serpent, and the same thing is reported, I 



228 cheist's agony, 

believe, as a result of certain bodily diseases that pro- 
duce very intense suffering. But the symptom is n#ne 
the less peculiar here, since^ it is not the effect of any 
poison, or physical pain, but of a purely mental 
anguish. 

Thus far, as relates to the agony, or crisis of pain 
itself, reported in the narrative. Other points relating 
to his conduct in the scene, will come into view as we 
inquire into the causes of the agony, and need not be 
recited. Whence and why, this very strange crisis of 
mental anguish? According to a very common im- 
pression, as already intimated, the suffering has a judi- 
cial character, and is to be taken as a theologic factor, 
in a scheme of retributive justice. The conception is 
that Christ has somehow come into the place of trans- 
gressors, to receive upon his person what is due to 
them, and that God, accepting him in that office, 
launches upon him the abhorrence or displeasure, that 
is due to them ; inflicting upon him, as it were, deserved 
pains, by withdrawing from him and letting fall upon him 
the horror of darkness under which he groans. The 
facts of the narrative have been so frequently, or even 
habitually, submitted to this construction, that our first 
concern will be to make a revision of the facts, ascer- 
taining how far they give it their support. 

Thus it is alleged, as a striking peculiarity of the 
scene, that the suffering appears, on a merely human 
footing, to be out of place. Before the arrest, in a 
quiet place out of the city, at a still hour of the night, 



OR MORAL SUFFERING. 229 

when he has all his friends about him, and judging by 
outward tokens, has far less reason to apprehend vio- 
lence from his enemies than he has had many times 
before — -such is the time and place, where Jesus falls 
into his dreadful agony and great horror of distress. 
In which he certainly appears to be exercised in a way 
that is not human, invaded by a suffering that can not 
on mere human principles be accounted for. And this 
fact favors the conviction, it is imagined, that he suffers 
because some mysterious judicial infliction is descending 
upon him, from a source invisible. But such a conclu- 
sion is rather, made up theologically for the scene, than 
drawn from the facts themselves. No single intimation 
of any such thing is, either contained in the facts, or 
given out by the narrative. 

Again his language, in the figure of the "cup" — 
'if this cup may not pass away from me except I 
drink it " — is taken as favoring the idea of some suffer- 
ing, in the nature of infliction. But do we not use the 
same kind of language ourselves, having still no such 
thought as that the cup of anguish we speak of, or pray to 
have taken away, is a judicial infliction ? This figure 
too of the cup is used, in scripture, for all kinds of ex- 
perience, whether joyful, or painful. Thus we have the 
"cup of salvation," "the cup of consolation," " the cup 
of trembling," "of fury," "of astonishment," "of deso- 
lation." Whatever God sends upon a man to be deeply 
felt, and by whatever kind of Providence, whether 
benignant, or disciplinary, or retributive, is called his 
cup. How then does it follow, when Christ speaks of 

20 



230 chkist's agony, 

his cup, that it is a cup of judicial chastening? Be- 
sides, does he not say to his followers — " ye shall indeed 
drink of my cup ;" and is any thing more fixed in this 
penal view of Christ's agony, than that no human being 
can, at all, participate in such matter of atonement? 
And, that being true, his cup, as he himself speaks, 
can not, in this particular instance at least, have refer- 
ence to any penal suffering, and probably has not in 
any other. 

Again the agony is accounted for as having been 
caused by the judicial withdrawment of the Father; 
leaving him to feel the weight, in his human person, of 
that displeasure which is due to the sins of the world, 
now upon him. There is no intimation whatever, to 
this effect in the narrative, but his exclamation after- 
ward, in the scene of the cross — "My God, my God, 
why hast thou forsaken me," — is carried back to the 
agony to fix this construction upon it. But there is not 
the least reason to suppose that Christ means literally 
to say, in the exclamation referred to, that God has for- 
saken him. Did he not comfort himself but a short 
time previous, in the assurance — " therefore doth my 
Father love me, because I lay down my life for the 
sheep ?" how then can he imagine that God is for- 
saking him, in just the sacrifice for which he loved him ? 
Nay it was only an hour ago that he was saying, in the 
dearest confidence, and in tender appeal even to the 
Father — " I have glorified thee on the earth, and now I 
come to thee." Besides it is represented by Luke, in 
his account of the agony itself, that an angel is sent 



OR MORAL SUFFERING. 231 

unto him to strengthen liim ; does God then send his 
angels to support whom he himself forsakes? And 
again, when he says in his prayer, three times repeated 
— "Not as I will but as thou wilt," what does he indi- 
cate, according to all human methods of judgment, but 
the dearest present confidence in God and repose in his 
favor? It must also be noted, again, that, between the 
agony and the crucifixion, and even before he leaves 
the garden, he formally declares just this confidence, 
saying — "Thinkest thou that I can not now pray to my 
Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve 
legions of angels?" The whole account in short, is 
crowded full of the most decisive proofs that he does 
not himself imagine any such thing as that he is for- 
saken of God and judicially given up to suffering. 
Let it also be observed, that when he utters the cry, 
" why hast thou forsaken me," he is just reeling out of 
life ; requiring his outcry therefore to be taken as a mere 
interjectional utterance of distress. Nothing could be 
further from him than to be protesting God's severity 
thus, in the article of death. 

But he does it nevertheless, some one will say ; for if 
we take his words interjectionally, why should he vent 
his sufferings by the outcry of what is not true ? Be- 
cause, I answer, the not true is often the most vehe- 
mently, best uttered truth. Thus when Jonathan and 
his armor bearer broke into the camp of the Philis- 
tines, the wild commotion, or panic, they two raised 
in the army, and the garrison, and all the people, is 
described by saying, "and the earth quaked ; so there 



232 Christ's 

was a very great trembling." Does any one suppose 
that the earth really quaked on that occasion, or is it 
said only to set off the trembling ? So when Paul, in 
the shipwreck, says, " not one hair of your head shall 
perish," it is not impossible that a good many hairs of 
the multitude were lost in their drifting ashore. He only 
said there should not, as a way of promising the safe 
landing more emphatically. Outcries too, of this kind are 
always to be taken freely, as the utterance of tragic feel- 
ing, or suffering, not as the- language of historic alle- 
gation. Exactly so Zion cries in her distress, " the Lord 
hath forsaken me;" when immediately God answers, 
" I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands." 
It will be a great day, I must add, for the scrip- 
tures, when the dull soul of dogmatism has done 
with its undiscerning inflictions ; when poetry is taken 
for poetry, passion for passion, and the hyperbolic in- 
tensities of interjection, never again for propositional 
statements. 

I will further add what ought, by a short method, to 
finish the argument, apart from all criticism on the 
terms of the narrative, that the absolute morality of 
God makes any such withdrawment of the Father im- 
possible. That eternal goodness should forsake good- 
ness in suffering, and even to make it suffer, in a way 
of gaining ulterior ends or advantages however mer- 
ciful, is to pawn the eternal chastities of character for 
ends of beneficence ; which, as certainly as God is God, 
will never be done. 

Dismissing now this artificial, over- theological, way 



OE MORAL SUFFERING. 233 

of conceiving the agony as a judicial infliction, let us 
endeavor 

Secondly to find the spring of it, in a way that looks 
to the simple character and conditions of the sufferer 
himself. I greatly mistake, if it does not so become, at 
once, more intelligible, and as much more effective on 
our feeling, as it is closer to the range of our human 
sympathies. 

That it is not resolvable into fear is, I think, suffi- 
ciently evident. It is quite incredible that a character 
of such transcendent worth and majesty should be thus 
appalled, thus miserably shaken, or dissolved, by fear 
of any kind. Besides, in fear the blood flies the 
skin, rushing back upon the heart, and leaving a deadly 
pallor over the whole exterior aspect ; while here we 
have a kind of agony that racks the soul, in some way, 
at the very center of life, forcing the blood outward and 
driving it even through the skin. In which we may see 
as conclusively as possible, that fear, the common hu- 
man weakness, had nothing to do with his suffering. 
It must also be noticed that the account given of his 
agony does not call it fear. It simply declares that he 
was sorrowful, "exceeding sorrowful," a state which 
has nothing, to do with fear. 

And yet he is shaken, somehow, in a degree that 
would not be considered honorable in a man of ordi- 
nary spirit, when about to die. Not only does the very 
great and wise man Socrates surpass him in the noble 
composure of his last hours, but thousands of malefac- 
20* 



234 chkist's agony, 

tors even have received the sentence of death for their 
crimes, with a better show of serenity and self-possession. 

We have a great matter then to account for, viz., 
that Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, a being 
who has never had to acknowledge a sin, or had the 
feeling of it, a perfect character who has confronted 
every sort of peril in his works of mercy, one who 
shows the most perfect confidence in God and the final 
success of his cause, is yet somehow shaken by the most 
dreadful agony — rent as it were asunder, by his agi- 
tated sensibility — when he meets the prospect of death. 

The first thing that occurs to us is that this agony 
can not be simply human. It visibly exceeds, in its 
degree, all that we know of human sensibility. Calling 
it then divine, if only we could think it possible for the 
divine sensibility to be a suffering sensibility, the question 
would begin to open. That this suffering sensibility 
should not fearfully wrench, and burden even to .crushing, 
the human vehicle it occupies, is scarcely credible. A suf- 
fering that exceeds the proportions of the vehicle must 
needs appear by violent symptoms — even as a powerful 
engine in a frail, light-timbered vessel, must needs make 
it groan heavily, or shake it even to wreck. 

What then is the fact? Is there any sensibility in 
God that can suffer? is He ever wrenched by suffer- 
ing ? Nothing is more certain. He could not be good, 
having evil in his dominions, without suffering even 
according to his goodness. For what is goodness but a 
perfect feeling ? and what is a perfect feeling but that 
which feels toward every wrong and misery according 



OR MORAL SUFFERING. 235 

to its nature ? And thus it is that we freely impute to 
him, whether we observe it or not, every sort of painful 
sensibility that is related to bad and suffering subjects. 
We conceive of him as feeling displeasure, which is the 
opposite of pleasure. We ascribe it as one of his per- 
fections that he compassionates, which means that he' 
suffers with, the fallen. We conceive that he loathes 
what is disgusting, hates what is cruel, suffers long 
what is perverse, grieves, burns, bears, forbears, and is 
even afflicted for his people, as the scripture expressly 
declares. All which are varieties of suffering. We 
also ascribed it to God, as one of his perfections, that he 
is impassible; but here, if we understand ourselves, 
we mean that he is physically impassible, not that he is 
morally so. Moral impassibility is really to have no 
sensibilities of character, which is far as possible from 
being any perfection. Indeed there is a whole class of 
what are called passive virtues that can not, in this view, 
belong to God at all, and his perfection culminates 
without including more than half the excellencies de- 
manded even of us, in the range of our humble, finite 
capacity. 

There is then, we conclude, some true sense, in which 
even God's perfection requires him to be a suffering 
God — not a God unhappy, or less than perfectly, infi- 
nitely, blessed ; for, though there be many subtractions 
from his blessedness, there is never a diminution ; be- 
cause the consciousness of suffering well brings with it, 
in every case and everlastingly, a compensation which, 
by a great law of equilibrium in his and all spiritual 



236 Christ's agony 



natures, fully repays the loss; just as Christ, assailed 
by so many throes of suffering sensibility — in the 
temptation, in his ministry, in the garden — still speaks 
of his joy, and bequeathes it as a gift most real and 
sublime to his followers. 

Now it is this suffering sensibility of God that most 
of all needed to be revealed, and brought nigh to hu- 
man feeling, in the incarnate mission of Jesus; not 
being revealed in any sufficient measure through nature 
and the providential history of men. It was necessary 
for us to feel God in his feeling , to know him in his 
passive virtues — his patience, forbearance of enemies, 
compassion, pity, sympathy, and above all, his deep 
throes of love, agonizing for the salvation of trans- 
gressors and wanderers from his fold. This, accord- 
ingly, is just what we are to look for in the agony so 
called, viz., a true discovery to our hearts of God's 
intensity and depth, in those suffering virtues by which 
his transcendently sovereign nature is exercised. 

Christ then, we shall expect to find, suffers in his 
agony, not because it is put upon him judicially from 
without, but only as his better nature should and must 
in The crisis that has overtaken him. Not to particu- 
larize further, two great sources, or causes of anguish 
open upon him at once ; firstly the chastity of his pure 
feeling recoils, with horror, from the hell-gulf of wrong 
and wild judicial madness into which he is now de- 
scending ; and secondly the love he has for his enemies 
brings a burden of concern upon his heart, that op- 
presses and, for the time, well nigh crushes him. Of 



OR MORAL SUFFERING. 237 

these two modes or kinds of anguish I will speak in 
their order. 

Christ, is a being of unsullied innocence, or even of 
divine purity, though incarnated into the corporate evil 
and retributive disorder of the world, to bear its liabili- 
ties and be himself a part of it. This retributive dis- 
order of the race is what is called in scripture "the 
curse ;" and, being himself a man, he is just so far in it 
as he is human. In all his previous ministry — in his 
temptation, in his healings, in the arts of hypocrisy and 
the cruelties of wrong he has encountered, he has been 
struggling often with the sense of recoil, or even with 
pungent visitations of horror difficult to be suppressed. 
But now, as he nears the great crisis of his life, he be- 
holds the corporate evil, or curse, gathering itself up to 
a deed upon his sacred person, that will display just all 
that is most horrible in it. He is not afraid, but his 
pure feeling shudders at the madness which is ready to 
burst upon him — shudders even the worse that it is to 
be judicial madness. For, though God is not going to 
deal judicially with him, he does perceive that the 
rage of sin, ordinarily restrained and graciously soft- 
ened by God's Spirit, is now to be let forth in his be- 
trayers and crucifiers, in just the madness that judi- 
cially belongs to it — so to glass itself before conviction, 
in a deed of murder upon the only perfect being that 
ever trod the world, nay a deed of murder upon divine - 
lovc itself! This it is that, in sad note of warning, he 
testifies, when his enemies come shortly after, to arrest 
him — " For this is your hour, and the power of dark- 



238 Christ's agony 



ness." He refers to no power of darkness, as many 
contrive to understand, upon himself; it is darkness 
upon them, his enemies — -judicial darkness, the fall, 
unmitigated, natural curse of wrong. This is "the 
cup" over which he groans, and which he is now to 
drink ; the wormwood and the vinegar of the world's 
wild malice. The suffering and death are penal upon 
him, only in the sense that all martyrs suffer penally, 
when the corporate judgments of God upon their 
wicked times and wicked fellow- men, infuriate and even 
dehumanize their natural feeling. But the martyrs are 
sinners, suffering as such at the point of their faith ; he 
is the sinless, suffering at the point of his innocence. 
They suffer as men, still bronzed in their susceptibility, 
by the old demoralization of sin ; he as the celestial one, 
and as a pure superhuman feeling must. The recoil of 
his horror is dreadful, quite unimaginable probably by us, 
and his poor human vehicle breaks under the shock, 
even as a stranded ship under the heavy blows of the 
sea. He groans aloud, falls upon his face, calls to his 
friends to stay by him, utters anguished cries to God, 
shows discolored drops resembled to blood exuding 
from his face — suffers in a word more incontinently, a 
great deal, than either soldier, philosojDher, or man of 
spirit should, nay than many a malefactor would ! And 
so, it truly seems to me, that he ought: for who of all 
mankind had ever a tithe of his sensibility to evil. In- 
deed one of the most difficult things for us mortals is 
to be duly shocked by wrong and feel a just horror of 
its baseness. Impassive to fear, even as God himself, 



OE MORAL SUFFERING. 239 

lie is jet wrenched all through, in every fiber of sensi- 
bility, by the appalling and practically monstrous scene 
before him — human creatures! — creatures in God's 
image! — going to crucify their Divine Friend from 
above ! — God's messenger and their Saviour ! By their 
bloody hands he is himself to die ! Yerily it is given 
unto men to die, but ah ! it was not given unto him. 
Death has no rights against him. Nothing but the cor- 
porate liability of his incarnation puts him under it. 
He shudders in throes of recoil, even as God's pure 
angels would, meeting such a death; nay more and 
worse, as he has a vaster nature, and a deeper sen- 
sibility, with only a human apparatus to support the 
shock ! 

Now this suffering of the agony is the suffering, in 
one sense, of justice, answering doubtless many of the 
uses conceived by those who contrive to make it a suf- 
fering divinely inflicted. It is a suffering that he un- 
dergoes in God's retributive order. In one view it is 
the curse that murders him, being that power of dark- 
ness and corporate evil that has come upon the world, 
as disordered and shaken out of God's harmony, by the 
recoil of transgression. His very incarnation had put 
him into or under it, and he would not even by the 
power of miracle push the liability away ; for it was one 
of his purposes to offer such a tribute of respect to 
God's retributive order, as would sanctify it in the feel- 
ing, and fix it in the convictions of mankind. Thus, 
by his power of miracle, he could have made to him- 
self a testudo, so to speak, of inviolable protection 



240 

against the rage of his enemies, but he preferred instead 
to suffer just what men are suffering, in that penal dis- 
order and social dislocation, which God, in judgment, 
has appointed for the fact of sin. It was in his heart 
to let God's justice have its due honors, breaking out, 
at no one point, from the fiery liability into which he 
had come, in becoming a man. He consented thus to 
let the hell which scorches wrong scorch him too, claim- 
ing no exception even for his innocence. Behold, he 
would say, O man, God's sacrament of wrath that is on 
thee, revealed by the wrath its poison stirs within thee ; 
and because it is the ordinance of his justice, bear wit- 
ness that I spurn it not, neither ask that my integrity 
excuse me 'from it! Sacred it shall be because it is 
right; and being for man as man, a power of darkness 
for all sin, I will take the bitter cup for thy sake I 
Only this be noted, since the malediction working in 
thee will not suffer even goodness to live, how certain 
it is that blindness, madness, murder, all that is called 
hell, goes with thy sin, whose eternally just and suffi- 
cient penalty it is that it shall live in its own fires, and 
be itself! - 

After such a tribute paid to the instituted justice of 
God, who will imagine that the forgiveness of penitent 
souls will loosen the joints of governmental order ? By 
this submission of Christ to man's curse or lot of pen- 
alty — penalty in no other sense to him — an impression 
will be made for God's justice, and a sting of conviction 
sharpened against sin, that will even start a new sense 
of his law, and the penal order of his rule in the hearts 



OK MORAL SUFFERING. 241 

of all mankind. Even as Christ himself anticipated 
when he said — " Of sin because they believed not on 
me." Also as it was anticipated for him that under and 
by his suffering mission, " the thoughts of many hearts 
should be revealed." And again, still further back, in 
the ancient prophecy — " They shall look on me whom 
they have pierced." All which was to be signally 
proved by the result of his crucifixion — 'And all the 
people that came together to that sight, beholding the 
things which were done, smote their breasts and 
returned." When had they ever felt the horrible 
nature and the justly damning power of their sin as 
now? 

It remains to speak of yet another and very distinct 
kind of suffering included in the agony, viz., the suf- 
fering Christ bore on account of his love. As he re- 
coiled in horror from the spirit and deed of his enemies, 
so he was oppressed by his anguish of concern for the 
men. He had come into the world, in the fullness even 
of God's love, to unbosom that love to the sight and 
feeling of mankind. As respects all enemies and reject- 
ors, it had been a suffering love even from eternity, and 
it will be none the less a suffering love that it has taken 
humanity for its vehicle. Every sort of love connects 
some kind of suffering greater or less — desire, concern, 
affliction, anguish. A bliss in itself, it is even a bliss 
intensified, by the burden it so willingly or even pain- 
fully bears. Thus it is that friendship, charity, 
motherhood, patriotism, carries each its burden, light or 
heavy, according to the nature and degree of its love 

21 



242 Christ's agony 



and according to the want, or woe of its object. What 
then must the feeling of Christ be, when he looks upon 
his enemies in the near prospect of death at their 
hands — death horrible to him, and a sacrilegious murder 
in them. If the great liberator Moses, discouraged and 
crushed in feeling by the perversity of his people, cried 
— "I am not able to bear all this people alone, because 
it is too heavy for me, and if thou deal thus with me 
kill me ;"■ if Paul, himself a man, was constrained, by 
the burden of a man's love, to say — " I have great 
heaviness and continued sorrow in my heart; for I 
could wish that myself were accursed from Christ, for 
my brethren, my kinsmen according to the faith;" 
who shall wonder at the anguish of Christ's burden, 
when he bows himself under it to the ground, when he 
calls it his " cup," when he cries, " my soul is exceeding 
sorrowful even unto death?" If the love of a human 
benefactor will sometimes beget anguish, what will the 
love of God do less than to create an agony? 

And yet how little will our dull-hearted world 
bronzed in evil, habitually unloving, unvisited or sel- 
dom visited, by a consciously tender compassion ; how 
little, indeed, will the most unselfish, or even benefi- 
cently Christian of us, conceive this agony of the divine 
love for men ! Our hearts make feeble answer to it at 
the best ; so feeble that there even seems to be a kind 
of overdoing, or overfeeling in it. Indeed we are even 
wont ourselves, for dignity's sake, to halve our own 
little emotion ; and we do the same unconsciously for 
the emotion of God ; halving it also again, by the con- 



OR MORAL SUFFERING. 243 

sideration here let in, that his love is only love to trans- 
gressors and enemies. Ah ! if we could think it, that 
is just the fact, in which God's love becomes an agony ; 
leaving, as it were, the ninety and nine of his friends, 
to go after that one who has gone astray, and rejoicing 
more over that, as he has felt the loss with a more pain- 
ful concern. God's love has no burden of pain for the 
good ; it sharpens to a pain only when it looks upon 
the evil. And here precisely is the stress of Christ's 
agony. 

When I consider thus who Christ was, what the love 
he bore, what the crime his enemies were going to per- 
petrate, invoking, in horrible delusion, his blood upon 
themselves and their children ; I seem to get some lit- 
tle, dim, conception of his anguish for them, in this 
dreadful hour. I can not go to the depth of it, I can not 
ascend to the height of it, but I can perceive why it 
should transcend my feeling and even the possible reach 
of my conceptions. It is even the more credible too 
that its tokens do so plainly exceed all human demon- 
strations. The most adequate and complete thing we 
can say of it is, that it reveals the Suffering Holiness of 
God. 

The reason of the agony then — this is our conclusion 
— lies in the facts themselves ; in the sensibilities of the 
sufferer and the causes acting on those sensibilities. 
No theologic reason, such as makes him suffer by inflic- 
tion, or by the judicial forsaking of God, has even a 
tolerable pretext, aside from the theory that makes up 
such a construction for its own sake. Even the justice 



244 

of God is more adequately impressed and set before the 
world more convincingly, without any so revolting con- 
ception, than with it. Never was there made before 
such an expression of God's abhorrence to sin, as in 
this recoil of Christ's agony from it ; never such honor 
put upon God's instituted justice, as in Christ's submis- 
sion to the corporate woe and penal madness of it. 
Never was the horrible nature of sin so revealed to hu- 
man conviction, as by this agony of compassion, on one 
side, met by such judicial blindness and even phrenzied 
malice, on the other. 

Can there now my friends, be any thing more strange 
than that multitudes of yon, having had full time to 
ponder this scene, and take its meaning after the fact, 
should still adhere to your sin, nay should even be quite 
insensible to it and the feeling of God concerning it. 
Beholding this immense sensibility of God, you still 
have none ! it is even appalling ! Rightly conceiv- 
ing such a fact, you would even start from yourself! 
Were you called by some angel, in the brightness of 
the sun, or by voices of thunder in the clouds, it would 
signify much less ; but that you should not feel the silent 
call of God's feeling ought to make you think even 
with dread of yourself. When the Christ of Gethsem- 
ane meets you bathed in the sad drops of his divine 
sorrow, there certainly ought, if there be any feeling 
left, to be some answering sorrow in you. Is there still 
none? What a relation this between your sensibility 
and goodness — functional death, lying as a rock in 



OR MORAL SUFFERING. 245 

Gethsemane, feeling as little that horror of sin, softened 
as little by that sorrowing love ! thou highly gifted 
creature, what kind of attainment hast thou made ! 

The lessons derivable to us, my brethren, from this 
subject are many; I can only call attention specially to 
this one, that as Christ suffers in his agony, not by the 
forsaking of God, not by any kind of infliction making 
compensation to eternal justice, but naturally, because 
of his character, and the crisis into which he has come, 
so there will be times and conditions where we shall 
suffer in like manner, according to our measures, and 
the degree of our likeness to him. Purity in us will 
shudder, love in us will bear its burden of sorrow. It 
is no presumption or profanation for us to think of 
being with him in his passion, we shall even require it 
of ourselves, as a necessary Christian evidence. Even 
as he himself declares — "}^e shall indeed drink of my 
cup." Not that we are to be as deep in the pains of holy 
sensibility as he — that is impossible. ISTot that we are to 
make a point of suffering much, and be always talking 
of some dreadful burden that is on us, and having it as 
a point of merit to be always in a groaning testimony. 
Christ did not make a three-years' funeral of his minis- 
try. Once he had a heavy struggle of temptation, 
telling never a word about it but the close. Once, and 
again, he wept. Once he declared that his soul was 
troubled. Once he fell into an agony, and was very 
soon through with it. It was never his way to suffer 
more than he must, or to call for sympathy by a show 
of his sorrows. On the other hand, no disciple is to make 

21* 



246 

a merit of being always floated in a luxury of bliss, as 
if the gospel had no purpose more rugged and practical 
than simply to beget an elysian frame. Much less may 
a disciple think it well that he suffers nothing, or is 
never overcast in his feeling, when the simple reason 
is that his soul is cased in the indifference of sloth and 
worldly living.. No pangs of life are suffered by the 
dead ! As certainly as your Master's love is in you, 
his work will be upon you. His objects will be yours, 
and also his divine burden. And sometimes that bur- 
den will be heavy. If your heart grows pure, it will 
just so far be shocked and revolted by the wrath and 
wrong of evil-doers. As certainly as you have feeling, 
you will have the pains of feeling. Expect to have 
your part then with Jesus in his Gethsemane. Come 
in freely hither, tarry ye here and watch. Out of 
his agony learn how to bear an enemy; what to do 
for your enemies and God's. If your intercessions 
sometimes turn to groans, if you sometimes wonder 
that being a Christian you are yet so heavily, painfully, 
burdened, almost crushed with concern for such as you 
are trying to save, let your comfort be that so you 
drink indeed your Master's cup. If your love is re- 
pelled with scorn, and your good work baffled, and 
your heart grows heavy under sorrow and discourage- 
ment — ready to sink under its load — come hither and 
pray with Jesus in his sweat of blood, "let this cup pass 
from me." If wickedness grows hot in malice round 
you, if conspiracy and violence array themselves 
against you, go apart into this Gethsemane of your 



OR MORAL SUFFERING. 247 

Lord's troubles, and be sure that some good angel shall 
be sent to strengthen you ; is not Christ's heart wringing 
for you more bitterly than yours for itself — tarry ye here 
and watch. If some demon of impatience whispers, 
here or there, "why not give it up?" behold the ago- 
nizing obedience of Christ, faithful unto death, and say, 
with him, '' not as I will but as thou wilt." Look for 
no mere holiday of frames, but for such kind of joy as 
a heart may. yield that is many times broken by sacri- 
fice. Behold your Master prostrate on the ground, and 
by his agony and bloody sweat, be girded for a passion 
of your own. Consent with Christ to suffer ; and when 
having gotten his victory, he says "rise, let us be 
going," go, not faltering, even though he lead you to 
the cross. 



XII. 

THE PHYSICAL SUFFERING,OR CROSS OF CHRIST. 



For it became him, for whom are all things, and by 
whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, 
to make the captain of their salvation perfect through 
sufferings. — Heb. ii, 10. 

It is a fact worthy of distinct notice, that our apos- 
tle is here making answer to the very same question 
that Anselm propounded for settlement, a thousand 
years afterward, in his very famous treatise, the Cur 
Deus Homo? And despite of the very great admiration 
won by this treatise, I feel obliged to suffer an impress- 
ion, that the apostle has greatly the advantage ; writing 
out his answer with a freer hand, and a far more pierc- 
ing insight, and presenting, in fact, the whole subject 
more adequately, in a single sentence, than the much 
venerated father was able to do in the high theological 
endeavor of his volume. 

In the verse previous to this sentence, which is my 
text, finding Jesus made a little lower than the angels, 
and, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and 
honor, it is as if his mind began to ask, even as 



THE PHYSICAL SUFFERING, ETC. 249 



Anselm did, why should he suffer thus, or come, in the 
way of suffering, at all ? why could not God, the Al- 
mighty, strike out the needed salvation by a shorter 
method, without suffering, viz., by his omnipotent 
force? Whereupon he makes answer, virtually, that 
force is out of the question ; because the needed salva- 
tion is a purely moral result, which can be accom- 
plished only b}* moral means and motives — " For it be- 
came Him " — it was even a fixed necessity upon Him, 
the Almighty — " for whom are all things, and by whom 
are all things, in the bringing of many sons unto glory, 
to make the captain of their salvation perfect through 
sufferings." 

The words bringing and captain, here occurring, have 
a relationship in the original, which would not be sus- 
pected, and which disappears in the English ; as if we 
should read — "in the bringing on of many sons unto 
glory, to make the bringer on " &c. There is no im- 
portance however in this reading, such as might be sup- 
posed, for a captain is a leader and bringer on of course ; 
only we conceive the passage more fitly, if the family 
relationship of the two words is understood. The de- 
claration is, and that is the matter of chief importance, 
that God, the Almighty, must needs work morally m 
such a case, and not by force: and that Christ, the 
leader, is made perfect, or perfectly competent, as 
regards the moral new creation, or bringing up unto 
glory, by his cross and the tragic eloquence of his 
death. 

That we may fully develop the apostle's meaning in 



250 THE PHYSICAL SUFFERING 



this general announcement, and verify it in the orderly 
exposition of the points included under it, let us begin 
at the question where he appears to have begun him- 
self; viz., why should Christy in the redeeming of souls, 
and bringing them unto glory, subject himself to 'physical 
suffering f — what, in other zvords, were the necessities and 
uses of that suffering ? 

I confine the question here, it will be observed, to 
his physical suffering. He encountered two distinct 
kinds of suffering, as we commonly use the term, viz., 
mental suffering, and bodily suffering ; that which be- 
longs to burdened feeling and wounded sensibility, and 
that which is caused by outward privation, or violence 
done against the physical nature ; that which appears 
more especially in the agony, and that which appears 
in the death of the cross. The former kind of suffer- 
ing I believe is never called suffering in the Xew Test- 
ament, but a being grieved; a bearing, or a burden, as 
in sympathy and loving concern; a being troubled 
in spirit, or very heavy ; sorroic ; agony. The word 
suffering is applied, meantime, I think, only to physical 
suffering ; and was doubtless used by the apostle, in the 
present instance, as relating to Christ's physical suffer- 
ing only. 

It is obvious enough then, at the outset, and as the 
first thing to be noted, that physical suffering, taken by 
itself, or as being simply what it is in itself, is never a 
thing of value. On the contrary it is, so far, a thing 
on the losing side of existence, a subtraction from the 



OR CROSS OF CHRIST. 251 

general sum of good. It will not help a friend, or feed 
an enemy, or stop a fire, or cool a fever. To the sufferer 
himself, looking never to any thing beyond it, or con- 
sequent upon it, but simply at what it is, it has no inhe- 
rent value, like wheat and wool, and no market value, 
like gold. It is not, in fact, a commodity of any kind, 
exchangeable or not exchangeable, but a simple incom- 
modity — a quantity purely negative and a worse than 
worthless fact. 

And the same exactly is true of Christ's suffering. 
Taken as physical pain simply, nothing is to be made 
of it. All the worse and more deplorable is the loss or 
negation of it, that it is a suffering which has no rela- 
tion to personal desert ; and still more deplorable in the 
fact that, regarding the divine order of the sufferer, it 
is even a shocking anomaly, which reason can not com- 
prehend and faith only can accept. God certainly did not 
want it as wanting to get so much suffering out of some- 
body. He does not exact a retributive suffering, even in 
what is called his justice, because he wants so much in 
quantity to even the account of wrong, but only that 
he may vindicate the right and testify his honor to it by 
a fit expression. Nothing could be more horrible, or 
closer akin to blasphemy, than to say that God wants 
pain for his own feeling's sake ; or because he is hun- 
gry for that particular kind of satisfaction. We have 
it as a proverb, that "revenge is sweet;" but I recollect 
no proverb which avers that justice is sweet; because 
the mind of justice is a right mind, as the mind of re- 
venge is not ; and, being right, no pain is sweet to it, not 



252 THE 

even that which chastises injustice and sin. Besides, 
there is, it is agreed, no justice in the pains of Christ, as 
being due on his own account ; and it ought to be as 
well agreed that God could not take them as compensa- 
tions on account of others. That would be taking them 
as actual somethings, or quantities haying value in 
themselves, when, in fact, they have, as we have seen, 
no value at all. Nay worse, if God takes them, he gets 
only incommodities for his satisfaction, and makes a 
gain that is purely harm and loss. 

But some one will object in the question — are not the 
physical sufferings of Christ what are called, in the 
scripture, his sacrifice for sin ? and what is the use of 
sacrifice but to atone God's justice? I do not un- 
derstand the scripture to speak of suffering and sacri- 
fice in that manner. Thus we hear an apostle say — 
" made perfect through sufferings " — for what made per- 
fect? for the satisfying of God's justice? No, but "to 
bring many souls unto glory?" "Lamb of God that 
taketh away" — what? the pains of justice? No, but 
" the sins of the world." " Who his own self bare our 
sins in his own body on the tree " — for what end ? that 
God might be satisfied with his pains? No, but "that 
we being dead unto sin, should live unto righteousness ;" 
" By whose stripes " — what of the stripes? do they pay 
off the release of ours? — "by whose stripes ye were 
healed." " For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, 
the just for the unjust" — in what view? to satisfy the 
justice of God? no, butr" to bring us unto God." All 
the lustral figures — those of washing, purging, sprink- 



OR CROSS OF CHRIST. 253 

ling, purifying, cleansing — set forth the sacrifice in the 
same manner, not as a way of reconciling God to us, 
but of reconciling us to God. And so universally — I 
do not know the instance where Christ's cross and phy- 
sical suffering are conceived as a making satisfaction to 
God's justice. 

Eegarding Christ's sufferings then as having no value 
in themselves, on the ground of which they may be 
accepted as compensations to justice, we must not leap 
to the conclusion that Christ could do nothing in a way 
of bringing men to God, without such sufferings. He 
could even have been incarnated into the world, in such 
a way as to involve no physical liability at all. He 
might even have been incarnated, I suppose, into the 
family of Caesar, and strid into his mission, as a prince 
iron-clad, in all the dignities and immunities of the 
Empire. He might have taught the same doctrine, 
omitting only his call to take up the cross, which he 
taught as the son of Mary. He might have healed as 
great multitudes, with as kind a sympathy. He might 
even have been followed, if he chose, by trains of great 
people, as he was by the humble and the poor, dining 
at their tables, lodging in their palaces, receiving all 
the while the highest honors of genius. Or if it should 
be imagined that, teaching faithfully the same prin- 
ciples, and rebuking the same sins, and offering him- 
self to men as the incarnate Word and Lord, he must 
of necessity provoke the hatred of enemies, and stir up 
powerful conspiracies of violence and bigot zeal, what 
suffering could they bring upon him, armed as he was 

1'4* 



254 THE PHYSICAL 

with miracle, strongly enough even to have routed the 
Roman army ? As the posse that went out to arrest 
him could not strengthen their knees to stand, or their 
hands to seize, but fell backward on the ground even 
as moths fall off from flames they attack ; as the money- 
changers and trafficking priests fled away before him, 
taken by a strange panic that no single man ever 
raised before; so he could have withered Caiaphas by a 
look, and dashed. his accusers away, as a rock tosses off 
the sea ; making Pilate's wife dream a great deal worse 
dreams than she did, and causing the poor servile 
magistrate himself to be a good deal "more afraid" 
than he was ; and as to being gibbeted on the cross, if 
the conspiracy could have gone so far, he probably 
enough could have changed the wood into water, as he 
did the water into wine. There was, in short, no 
necessary condition of physical suffering implied in his 
Messiahship. He probably could not have been as 
complete a Saviour without physical suffering, but he 
could have been a wonderfully great character and be- 
neficent teacher, as clear of spot or stain, as true in his 
truth, as wise in his wisdom, as evidently, and some 
would say, a great deal more evidently, divine. 

If then Christ's physical sufferings, taken as such, 
had no value, and if he could have been incarnated in 
the human state without suffering — doing and teaching, 
to a great extent, the same things — why did he come 
under conditions of suffering, what uses did he expect 
to serve by it, such as would compensate the loss ? It 
was done I answer, that he might be made perfect by 



OR CROSS OF CHRIST. 255 

such, suffering — perfect, that is, not in his character, but 
in his official competency; perfect as having gotten 
power over men, through his sufferings, to be the suffi- 
cient bringer on, or captain, he undertakes to be, in 
bringing many sons unto glory. 

Does he then, it may be asked, undertake the suffer- 
ing as having that for his object or as consenting to it for 
effect's sake ? He of course knows that he will suffer, 
and how, and when, and by whom, and with what 
result, but he does not fall into the weakness of those 
partly fanatical martyrs who undertook the particular 
merit of being somehow murdered. Coming down to 
do a work of love, he simply took the liabilities of a 
human person doing such, a work. He was not igno- 
rant of the immense value or power of a right and great 
suffering, as regards the possible effect of it, and as sin 
would certainly be exasperated by his goodness, and 
drag him down to suffering, he meant beforehand to 
make it a right and great suffering, and so to win do- 
minion by it. He suffered understandingly, therefore, 
as the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the 
world, though not as aiming to get himself afflicted, or 
to make an ostentation of being wronged. 

"What, then, we have now to look after, is the man- 
ner and degree of that power over men's convictions 
and feelings, which Christ obtained by his physical suf- 
fering. And the points to which I call your attention 
are such as these. 

1. The manner in which, by his physical suffering, he 



256 THE PHYSICAL SUFFEKING, 

magnifies and sanctifies the law in men's convictions. 
This in fact was a kind of first point to be carried in 
getting the necessary power over fallen minds. The 
speculation that requires him to suffer in a way of help- 
ing God to justify himself in the forgiveness of sins, 
before certain great judicial minds in other worlds and 
spheres, is a speculation that to say the least travels far, 
and the scripture gives it no help. The true Christian 
idea appears to be that Christ is magnifying the law, 
and making it honorable, not before the remote alti- 
tudes, but before the sinning souls of this world by 
whom it has been trampled. How else shall they ever 
be regained ? God is an essentially practical and not a 
romantic being. He will not concern himself about 
the figure he makes in the forgiveness of sins, before 
the outlying populations of his realm, if only he can 
bring transgressors down to ask forgiveness here on 
earth, by making the pinnacles of order smoke before 
their guilty consciences. 

See then how he does it in the matter of Christ's 
physical suffering. He came into the world with a per- 
fect right to be exempted from such suffering. There 
is nothing in his character to require this kind of disci- 
pline, or even to make it just. He also had power to 
put all suffering by, and sail over the world as the 
stars do, in a region of calm and comfort above it. He 
could have exorcised the wild hate of his enemies, as he 
did the poor lunatics of the Gergesenes. By his power 
of miracle, if not without, he could have driven Pilate 
and his accusers out of the judgment-hall into the 



OK CROSS OF CHRIST. 257 

street, passing intact through all the conspiracies of his 
enemies, even as Moses passed through the sea. But 
he would not so far infringe on the penal order of 
God's retributions. Looking on society, in its madness 
against him and against the truth, as grinding in God's 
mill of retribution, swayed, and rent and tortured by 
exasperating causes in the guilt of its own transgres- 
sion, he refuses to take himself out of the general 
torment. Having taken humanity, he takes all the 
judicial liabilities of human society under sin, prefer- 
ring, in this manner, to submit himself to the corporate 
order of God's judgments, and testify in that manner, 
his profound homage to law and justice. He will not 
so much as parry any one of the bad causations loos- 
ened by sin. He will let the world be to him just that 
river of vinegar and gall which its sins have made it to 
itself. So he bears the world's bitter curse, magnifying, 
even by his pains, the essential sanctity of law and 
justice. 

He suffers nothing as from justice to himself, and 
therefore makes no satisfaction to the justice of God. 
But he powerfully honors that justice in its dealings 
with the world, by refusing to let even his innocence 
take him out of the murderous and bloody element it 
mixes. Hence the marvelous, unheard of power his 
life and gospel, and especially his suffering death, have 
exerted in men's ^consciences. His suffering has this 
wonderful divine art in it, that it sanctifies both for- 
giveness and justice, and makes them common factors 
of good, in the conscience of all transgression. 



258 THE PHYSICAL SUFFERING, 

2. The physical suffering of Christ has an immediate 
value, under that great law of human nature, that or- 
dains the disarming of all wrong, and the prostration 
of all violence, by a right suffering of the evils they 
inflict. Nothing breaks the bad will of evil so com- 
pletely, as to have had its way, and done its injury, and 
looked upon its victim. And if the victim, suffering 
even the worst it could do, still lives unvanquished, the 
defeat is only a more absolute and stunning paralysis. 
Thus in the bitting of horses, the animal champs the 
bit as if he would crush it, and throws himself on the 
rein as if he would snap it, till finding that he only 
worries and galls himself, he at last gives way to what 
has not given way to him, and so is tamed, or, as we 
say, broken to the rein. So when the wrath of trans- 
gression hurls itself upon the Lord's person, sparing 
not his life, nor even letting him die easily or in respect, 
the bad will is only the more fatally broken that, ac- 
complishing so much in a way so dreadful, it has yet 
accomplished nothing. It has mocked him, tortured 
him, thrust him out of life, only to find him still alive 
and see him go up to reign ! In one view it has suc- 
ceeded against him; and he has been seemingly crushed 
under the heel of its malignity. It has pierced the 
noblest heart and seen it bleed. It has finished the 
worst, most shocking, deed of murder ever conceived, 
And yet that murdered one still lives and loves ! How 
dreadfully crest-fallen now and weak is that bad will, 
how nearly slain itself by what it has done ! Nay, to 
have only spent so great malignity, and come to the 



OE CROSS OF CHRIST. 259 

point of exhaustion, would produce a nearly mortal 
weakness. Suffering kills, bow often, the wrong-doing 
that inflicts it. The man of blood who looks upon his 
murdered enemy is disarmed by the sight. Even if 
there seemed to have been some provocation, how ten- 
der, and soft, and low-spoken, how visibly gentled in 
feeling is he, standing in the room where his lifeless 
adversary lies ! That dead face looks imploringly up 
to him, and his fire is extinguished by natural relent- 
ings. How much more when the murdered one is a 
friend inherently good, bearing a much honored name 
and great ; how much more, if he is the incarnate Son 
of God ; still more, if he is not only killed, but cruci- 
fied, hung up thus to be looked upon depending from 
his cross — sad, broken flower, which the spite of so 
great beauty has plucked! how weak, irresolute, 
guilt-broken, now, is all sin, when confronted by that 
suffering goodness which reveals at once, both its spite 
and its impotence! "I am Jesus of Nazareth whom 
thou persecutest " — How piercing is the word ! 

3. The sublime morality, or moral worth of Jesus, 
could never have been sharply impressed, except for 
the sensibilities appealed to by his physical suffering. 
If he had come as one born of a good family, if he had 
been a considerable owner of real estate, if he had 
made his journeys in a chariot, lodging, at night, with 
distinguished senators and persons of consideration, if 
he had been a great scholar among the Eabbis, or had 
been familiar to the people in the livery of a judge, or 
a priest, winning great popularity by the profuseness 



260 

of his charities, and exciting even applause by his 
attention to low people and his tender ministry to their 
diseases ; dying finally by some of the modes that are 
common, to be followed to his burial by multitudes that 
come to weep their loss at his grave — if, I say, he had 
lived in condition, and died as one admired for his ex- 
cellence, the real depth of his virtue could never even 
have been conceived. He would only have been looked 
upon as fulfilling the type of a graciously benevolent 
gentleman, and described as the John Joseph Gurney 
of his time. Mo, it was only as he waived the honors of 
condition in his birth, and the comforts of property in 
his life, became a footman, hungered often, slept under 
the sky shivering with cold, spent himself daily in ex- 
hausting sympathies and got almost no sympathy in 
return, met the looks of crafty messengers and spies on 
every side, and scarcely found a place, except in the lone 
recesses of the mountains, where his ear was not all 
day, perhaps all night, saluted by the carping sounds of 
bigot voices quarreling with his doctrine, ending finally 
his hunted, hated, weary life, by a slave's death on the 
cross — this too, even for enemies, as truly as for his 
friends — it is here that we begin to really look down 
into the deeps of his great bosom, deeps holy and divine, 
that no mortal plummet has sounded ! And so he is 
made perfect through sufferings, able to wake a sense in 
our bosoms of what love is, quickening thoughts in us 
that are new, opening sensibilities never before con- 
sciously opened. All the most effective powers, in short, 
of moral impression, contained in his character, would 



OR CROSS OF CHRIST. 261 

have been wanting, if he had not borne the lot of 
wrong and bitter suffering. 

4. It is only by his suffering in the flesh that he 
reveals or fitly expresses the suffering sensibility of 
(rod. As certainly as God has any sensibility, such as 
belongs to a perfect mind and heart, that sensibility 
must be profoundly moved by all misery, impurity and 
wrong. Impassible, physically speaking, he is not im- 
passive to evils that offend, or grieve, his moral perfec- 
tions. Indeed his vast and glorious nature is, in this 
view, nothing but an immense sensibility, whose dis- 
likes, disgusts, indignations, revulsions of pity, wounded 
compassions, afflicted sympathies, pains of violated ten- 
derness, wrongs of ingratitude, are mingling and com- 
mingling, as cups of gall, for the pure good feeling of 
his breast. So far he suffers because he is a perfect be- 
ing, and according to the measure of his perfection. 
Why if he could not hate what is hateful, pity what is 
pitiful, mourn for the hopeless, burn against the cruel, 
scent the disgusts of the impure — if all bad things and 
all good were just alike to him, what is he better than 
granite or ice ? No, the glorious, all -moving fact is, that 
there is a great sensibility at the head of the worlds> 
and a mental suffering as great, when the worlds go 
wrong ! 

This accordingly it is, that we, as sinners, need most 
of all to know and to feel, and this that Christ, for oar 
salvation's sake, has taken the flesh and suffered even 
death, to impress. Nature, in her scenes and objects, 
had no power to express this moral pain of God's heart. 



262 THE PHYSICAL SUFFERING, 

The ancient providential history was trying always 
vainly to elaborate the same ; testifying, in almost every 
chapter, of God's sorrows, griefs, repentings, loathings, 
displeasures, and his afflictions over the afflicted. 
Nothing could ever express it but the physical suffer- 
ing of Jesus. Here, for the first time, a vehicle is 
found that will sufficiently bring home to our guilty 
feeling God's wounded feeling, and put us in real ac- 
quaintance with that suffering state of love, which his 
unseen goodness feels. 

And every thing turns here, you will perceive, on 
the matter of physical suffering ; for, to our coarse hu- 
man habit, nothing else appears, at first, to have much 
reality. In the agony, for example, the real suffering 
is mental, and the great struggle, a struggle purely of 
feeling. But if it were not for the physical symptoms 
attendant, the prostrations, the audible groans, and 
above all, the body dripping, in blood-like drops, 
forced through the skin by the pains of the mind — 
were it not for these physical tokens we should get no 
impression of a suffering sensibility, that would be of 
much account. "We should only look on drowsily, 
doubting probably how much, or what kind of, reality 
there may be in this rather dull scenic of the gospels ! 

And here is the precise relation of the agony and the 
cross. One is the reality, the other is the outward sign 
or symbol. Having all the mental sensibility Christ has 
regarding our sin, and shame, and wrong, and fearfully 
lost state, he still needs to be made perfect through 
physical sufferings, or by these to have his higher sen- 



OR CROSS OF CHRIST. 263 

sibility brought forth into power. He is perfect before, 
in all the pains of his perfect sensibility, but to our 
coarse, sensuous, undiscerning habit, there is nothing of 
much meaning in him, till we watch him undergoing 
his murder! This physical suffering we can under- 
stand ; the other is a great way off and very dim. 

In one view it is even a scandal that we make so 
much more of the cross than we do of the agony. 
And yet the cross was appointed for the culminating 
point of the gospel, partly in a way of condescension 
to our lowness and the want of our coarseness, and is 
really the greater for that reason. The grand thing to 
be revealed is that which stands in the agony ; and the 
superior value of the cross, or physical suffering, lies in 
the fact that it comes to us, at our low point, speaking 
to us of the other, in a way that we can feel. When 
we look on Jesus suspended by nails through his hands 
and feet, and set up to die a slow death, in delirium and 
thirst and fever, we do have raised in our bosoms a lit- 
tle natural sensibility. And, taken hold of by that, 
our apprehensions will perhaps be sufficiently fixed, at 
last, to let us in where that deeper, and warmer, and 
more agonizing, sensibility heaves unseen in the mental 
compassions of God ! 

Let us not be too much taken, my friends, by 
the typology in which our gospel is here and there so 
feebly and pretensively dressed — the low perceptions, 
and the short culture, always putting their cheap hon- 
ors and ornaments upon it. I speak not here of the 
cross set up as a symbol on our peaks of architecture, 



264 

worn upon the person, painted on the banners of the 
religion itself; but I speak of the crucifixes, and the 
carefully carved distresses of the dying Lord, the drop- 
pings of blood, the contortions of form, the pallors of 
death so elaborately painted, and the generally over- 
done studies of art, by which Christ's dying woe is 
magnified as being, not the sign, but the all of his suf- 
fering. The very shallow, feeble, look of such art, 
the want of all high insight in it, is abundantly morti- 
fying. There is scarcely a doubt that Christ suffered 
more intensely in the agony, where the pain was wholly 
mental, than he did upon the cross. Even the exter- 
nal signs appear to indicate as much. In the same way 
too, his chief suffering, on the cross, was probably men- 
tal and not bodily. For some reason, his suffering on 
the cross was so much more severe than that of the 
malefactors crucified with him, that he died whole 
hours before them ; not because they did not suffer as 
great physical pain as he, but because he had a moral 
sensibility so vast, a horror of wrong so deep, a con- 
cern of love for his enemies so wrenched with agony, 
that his heart broke and his breath stopped, as it were 
before the time. This now — would that we could 
think it — was the real suffering to him ! and the physi- 
cal suffering of the cross was probably a matter of con- 
sequence to him principally in the fact that, considering 
our low, dull, habit, there might be force enough in it 
to initiate, or prick in, as it were, some faint impression 
of the other. And this it is, this only, that makes it a 
salvation. It is a cross before the eyes, for beings that 



OR CROSS OF CHRIST. 265 

live in their eyes, and are too coarse to apprehend the 
spiritual things of God in a spiritual manner — in that 
way a type of the more wondrous and tremendous cross 
that is hid in God's perfections from eternity. 0, it is 
for this, to make sin feel this unseen, tender, sensibility, 
this pain of goodness, this fatherhood of sorrow — this 
it is that Christ has undertaken to impress, * and for 
this end he is made perfect through sufferings. Once 
more — 

5. It was necessary that Christ should suffer in the 
body, and get power over men by that kind of suffer- 
ing, because the world itself is put in a tragic economy, 
requiring its salvation to be an essentially tragic salva- 
tion. God has made the world, we all agree, for the 
great sentiments it will organize and bring into play, 
and souls themselves to be lifted by that play, in those 
great sentiments. Hence the wonderful affinity of our 
human nature for the tragic exaltations. 

There may have been a prior necessity that a free 
moral kingdom should include peril, disorder, suffering, 
great struggles to escape great woes, sacrifices in the 
good, wrongs suffered by the good, to regain and restore 
the evil ; in other words, there may have been a prior 
necessity that the plan of God's moral universe should 
be essentially tragic in the cast of it. But, whatever 
may be true in this respect, we can see, every man for 
himself, that so it is. No merely fine sentiment, or 
morally high, is quite sufficient for us. The festive, 
the gay, the triumphal, the melo-dramatic tenderness, 
the pastoral sweetness, the flutes of domestic arbors, the 

23 



266 THE PHYSICAL 

gongs of public liberty — none of these quite satisfy, 
not even the mighty love-passion strikes our highest cords 
of tension till it draws blood ! Blood ! blood ! we must 
have blood ! Human history therefore moves on trail- 
ing in blood, tragic in its characters, and scenes, and its 
material generally. 

The great crimes are tragic, and the great virtues 
scarcely less so. The tribunals sprinkle their gate-posts 
with blood. The stormy passions, honor, jealousy, and 
revenge, are letting blood in all ages ; and the little ones 
of trust, and truth, and worth, do the bleeding. 
And then all the epics and romances, and a great part 
of the world's poetry go on to add imaginary pangs 
and troubles, and torture us still more with bloody feli- 
cities that are fictitious. Practically the world has a 
general fashion of suffering. Eight is trampled every- 
where, goodness fights with wrong, nations fall, heroes 
bleed, and all great works are championed by suffering. 
Some Prometheus, torn by his eagle, bleeds painfully on 
every rock waiting to be loosed from his chain. So if 
Christ will pluck away eternal judgment for the world, he 
must bleed for it. So great a salvation must tear a 
passage into the world by some tragic woe — without 
shedding of blood there is no remission. 

This blood — O, it is this that has a purifying touch, 
working lustrally, as the divine word conceives, on all 
the stains of our sin, washing us, making us clean, 
sprinkling even our evil conscience. This tragic power 
of the cross takes hold, in other words, of all that is 
dullest, and hardest, and most intractable, in our sin, and 



OR CROSS OF CHRIST. 267 

moves our palsied nature, all through, in mighty throbs 
of life. 

And this is Christianity; meeting us just where we 
most require to be met. Christ is a great bringer on 
for us, because he suffers for us. Christianity is a 
mighty salvation, because it is a tragic salvation. 
Why my friends, if it were not for this generally tragic 
way in things about us, and especially in religion, I fear 
that we should have a more dull time of it than we 
think. Indeed I suspect that even the same is true of 
the general universe — it probably is and is forever to be 
an essentially tragic universe. With a fall and an 
overspreading curse at the beginning, and a cross in the 
middle, and a glory and shame at the end, where souls 
struggle out, through perils, and pains, and broken 
chains, or bear their chains away unbroken still and still 
to be — how moving, and mighty, and high, must be the 
sentiment of it ! O how grandly harrowing is that joy, 
how tremulous in tragic excitement is that song of as- 
cription, roaring as a sea-surge round the throne — 
" unto him that loved us, and washed us, from our sins 
in his blood!" 

Concluding at this point, my brethren, the exposition 
I have undertaken, you will not fail to note how it 
gathers in its force upon this table and rite of com- 
munion before us. These symbols, bread and wine, 
body and blood, represent exactly what is most physi- 
cal in Christ's suffering. But they do not stop in that, 
as if there were a value in the pains. They are even 



268 THE PHYSICAL SUFFERING, 

a language, as that was, bearing an impression of some- 
thing higher. They say " made perfect through suffer- 
ings;" calling up to be thought, and received, just all 
that I have here been trying to unfold, of the power 
which our Master was obtaining, by his dreadful cross 
and passion. 

Back of the wood and the nails, back of the suffer- 
ing bod} r , there was another cross, another suffering, 
even that of Grod's deep love, struggling out through 
the blood and the pain, to make its revelation felt in us. 
And this for wh-at? To bring many sons, that is to 
bring us all, unto glory. 

Suffering and glory!" even so; in that tragic copula, 
the gospel stands, and it is remarkable how many times 
it recurs. " Ought not Christ to suffer these things, and 
to enter into his glory?" " For the suffering of death, 
crowned with glory and honor" — "The sufferings of 
Christ and the glory that should follow" — "A witness 
of the suffering of Christ, and a partaker of the glory 
that should be revealed" — "Who hath called us unto 
eternal glory, by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered 
awhile" — responses all, as it were, to the word — 
" made perfect through sufferings in bringing many 
sons unto glory." 

Here, too, as you have noted, Christ's sufferings for 
us, and ours for him, and his glory, and our glory, are 
blended all together, heaving in a common passion, 
shining in a common glory. And thus it is, my breth- 
ren, that our ascended Master, by these communion 
tokens, pledges us to-day our right to suffer with him, 



OR CROSS OF CHRIST. 269 

and to ' be strengthened with him according to his 
glorious power. And what we call his glory, is, if we 
rightly understand, but this same glorious power, or 
powerfulness of glory — no phantom of display, or daz- 
zling crown, conferred by servile worshipers wanting a 
hero, but that most solid kind of merit which is an ele- 
ment and power of day, on all who are blessed in the 
sight. When Christ was transfigured in the mount, 
the shining as the sun, the glistering whiteness, which 
are called "the excellent glory," were yet but a surface 
glory in themselves, and were only good as types 
of that inherent, practical glory, that belonged to his 
nature, and was just now dawning on discovery in his 
suffering sacrifice. The immense power he gets in 
being made perfect through sufferings, is itself his 
glory. And so the state of glory in us is the solid 
power that we are to obtain, by following in our Mas- 
ter's steps, by suffering patience and sacrifice. When 
Christ says, "the glory which thou gavest me I have 
given them," that glory is the sense we have in them, 
as God's martyrs and servants, of a somehow divine 
brightness and transforming luster. There is some- 
thing felt which yet we do not see, and we call that 
invisible something, glory. It is splendor of soul, or 
the halo that is on it, when the blur and disorder and 
opaque mixture of wrong are all gone bye ; or it is the 
state of perfect strength, concord, liberty in good, free- 
ness of knowledge, purposes eternally set, great sentiment 
hallowed by great principle, and uttered by and through 
great action, when Christ, who is himself the glory of 

23* 



270 THE 

the Father, has put himself fully upon us, and when 
so the divine splendor and power, and truth, and right- 
eousness, are become our eternal investiture. And 
therefore it is, that the very state of glory for which we 
hope is set forth as a daylight element, bathing holy 
minds forever, whose sun is the Eevelation of Grod by 
suffering — "For the Grlory of Grod doth lighten it and 
the Lamb — is the light thereof. O, thou divine Lamb ; 
suffering symbol in the flesh, of God's suffering love 
in the spirit, what shall be the light of our seeing 
forever, but that which may shine out from thee ! 



XIII. 

SALVATION BY MAN 



For since by man came death, by man came also the 
resurrection from the dead. — i. Con. xv. 21. 

It can not, of course, be the apostle's meaning, that 
mankind are going literally to raise themselves from 
the dead. When he says " by man," he mentally refers 
to Christ ; only taking advantage of the fact that, since 
Christ the Son of God incarnate, is become a proper 
man, a member of the race, it is therefore permitted us 
to regard the whole remedy of sin, or power of salva- 
tion, as being included in humanity itself. Redemp- 
tion, life, resurrection — all are, in a sense, being and to 
be, by man. When we say humanity, there is inclosed 
and, as it were, closeted in it, all the inspiration, all the 
light, all the life-impulse of the divine man, and so all 
the supernatural, resurgent powers of a complete salva- 
tion, even up to the resurrection force itself. It is not 
as if God had called us here from a distance, or had 
sent his Son to sit upon the circle of the heavens and 
lecture us from those supernal heights, but he has 



272 SALVATION BY MAN. 

gotten him into the race by a birth, and has entered, in 
that manner, a corporate grace of life into the race 
itself. 

What I propose then at the present time, is the prac- 
tically important fact that. Christ is not so much to be 
thought of as a being external, or as dispensing salva- 
tion from above, as a second Adam in the race itself; 
a regenerative and redemptive power, so inserted into 
humanity as to be in a sense of it. Just as the apos- 
tle's language intimates — "For since by man came 
death, by man came also the resurrection from the 
dead." For this word "since" is a word of rational 
connection, supposing an impression felt of some inhe- 
rent fitness, requiring the corporate disadvantage of the 
fall, to be made good by a corporate remedy. Consider 
then — 

1. The antecedent probability of such a remedy, indi- 
cated by familiar analogies. It is not God's manner to 
work all remedies in things from without, but to make 
them largely self-remedial, when attacked by damage, 
or disorder. Thus all creatures of life, all substances 
above the range of mineral substance, are endowed by 
him with recuperative functions for the repair of their 
own injuries. The bush that is bent to the ground 
does not require some other bush or even tree, to come ' 
and lift it up, but, no sooner is it let go, than it springs 
up suddenly by an elastic force within. Cut it down, 
ss it begins to be a tree, and it will set new growths to 
pricking through the hard bark even of its stump, and 
so, by a newly begun architecture it will go on to build 



SALVATION BY MAN. 273 

the tree it was beginning to build at the first. Every an- 
imal body lias a distinct self-medicating force in its own 
vital nature, called by physicians and physiologists the 
vis medicatrix. When, therefore, it is attacked by dis- 
ease, or hacked by violence, the qualified physician, 
knowing how it will rally its own hidden force, and put 
its own mysterious self-medications at work, will sim- 
ply endeavor, on his part, to clear the way, and supply 
the needed stimulus of action, till the subtle, inborn 
physician, wiser and more sovereign than he, has 
mended the break, or completed the cure. The same 
is true as regards all defections of honor or character. 
If the man himself does not return to himself, and re- 
pair his losses by a process of recovery undertaken by 
himself, there is no recover}' for him. The whole world 
toiling at his vices and dishonors, could not repair one 
of them. He alone has power to win the first inch of 
recovery. On a larger scale the same is true of society. 
Broken down by oppression, desolated by conquest, 
rent by faction, weakened by every sort of incapacity, 
it finally gets clear and rises, by reactions from within 
itself— just as Italy is rising now. The rational resur- 
rection comes by man — man, that is, grown manlier, as 
God prepared him to be, by his own great struggles of 
devotion. 

We see, in this manner, on how large a scale God 
contrives to incorporate powers of self-recovery in 
things. What then shall we expect, when humanity is 
broken by the irruption, or precipitation of sin, but 
that if he organizes redemption, he will do it in a way 



274 SALVATION BY MAN. 

to have it appear as a redemption from within, executed 
in a sense by man. 

I do not mean, of course, when I speak in this man- 
ner of ''self-recovery," and u salvation my man," that 
the recovery and salvation are not by God. There is 
exactly the same propriety in this kind of language 
that there is in speaking of a harvest, or a voyage, as 
being by man — it is never such in the sense of exclud- 
ing God and his natural agencies. Indeed the recov- 
ery and salvation of souls are more properly by man, 
because the agency of God is here incarnated and works 
in the race by a man thus inserted into it. 

2. It is another point to be observed, that we not 
only want a supernatural salvation (for nothing less 
than that can possibly regenerate the fall of nature,) 
but in order to any steady faith in it, we must have it 
wrought into nature and made to be as it were, one of 
its own stock powers. It does not meet our intellectual 
conditions, till it satisfies, in a degree, the scientific 
instinct in us, and becomes rational and solid, by appear- 
ing to work inherently, or from within, as by a certain 
force of law. Moving on the soul and society, as from 
a point above and without, it would be here, and there, 
and nowhere, flitting as it were apparitionally, breaking 
out now as from behind the moon, and vanishing next, as 
our faith reels awajr, in we know not what spaces of the 
air, or abysses of the sea, What we want can be seen, at a 
glance, from the eagerness that hurries such multitudes 
of our time after the doctrine of progress. "We love to 
look on education, political liberty, personal culture, 



SALVATION BY MAN. 275 

and the sway of moral ideas, all as advancing under 
fixed laws of progress. This doctrine of progress is 
even a better kind of gospel to many, and more ra- 
tional. And yet if we speak of a strictly natural pro- 
gress, under natural laws, there is no fiction more 
utterly baseless : for after the fact of sin, or moral evil 
broken loose in the race, the progress of society must 
be inevitably downward from bad to worse. Just that 
too which ought to be true is true, many of the proud- 
est, most historic races drop into extinction ; and many 
others exist that we call savage races, just because they 
make no such progress, more than the animals, from 
age to age. 

And yet we want a salvation that is to us all which 
this doctrine of progress pretends to be, and God defers 
to our want, by contriving a gospel for man that is to 
be, in form, by man ; giving us to see the general hu- 
manity so penetrated and charged with the supernatural, 
by Christ living in it, as to be, in a sense, working out 
redemption naturally from within itself. We call it 
the progress of society, and such it really is, and yet, 
solid and scientific as we think it, all the reality it has 
comes of the incorporated, incarnated grace, in Jesus 
Christ, which is countervailing always the penal disor- 
ders of nature, and setting continually on, as by a des- 
tiny itself, the rising fortunes of the race. Our gospel 
is a cause, in this manner, among causes ; a real calcu- 
lable force, the confidence of which can be held with a 
steady assurance. Is any thing more rational than to 
believe that goodness and truth are bound to master all 



276 SALVATION BY MAN. 

things by their own everlasting necessary laws ? No 
matter from what sphere they come, natural or super- 
natural, getting into man, into the race, they will as 
certainly master man at last, master the race, as gravity 
will master a stone. Exactly this confidence God there- 
fore means to give us — no visionary confidence but a 
rational, that of a banker whose fund is in ; for God 
has put the stock functions of his own everlasting king- 
dom into humanity itself, and by man He must reign. 
Meantime — 

3. "We shall see that, if it were possible to restore the 
fall of our race, by any kind of agency, or operation, 
wholly external, supposing no recuperative forces and 
concurrent struggles operating from within, it would 
reduce our character and grade of significance to a vir- 
tual nullity. Dismiss the grand world-honoring fact of 
the incarnation, conceive that the Jehovah angel, or 
some angelic messenger comes to us, not humanized in 
sympathy or in order, but having a plastic power to 
work on us from without and sway us to good, by his 
own methods of divine magic, apart from our consent ; 
this would settle us, at once, into a state of cliency both 
dangerous and humiliating. We should probably 
begin, at once, to pay him the honors of idolatry ; for 
the manly consciousness in us will be taken away, and 
we shall be to ourselves a kind of second rate interest 
in God's kingdom ; just that which the incarnation, be- 
getting a new divine power in the race itself, contrives 
to avoid with a skill so beautiful. 

Or we may suppose that God was able to put the 



SALVATION BY MAN. 277 

physical world into such a state of divine glow, show- 
ing forth, in its objects, such radiances and miraculous 
revolvings, such glorious apparitions of truth, such 
faces of goodness, that men should have their bad 
will quite taken away by the magical sceneries 
they live in. But the transformation they undergo 
in this manner would have little dignity in it, because 
their manhood is unexercised in the change. It 
would be a kind of vegetable conversion, not a 
kindling of God's fires in the soul's aspirations and 
choices. 

So, if the race were to be recovered in any way that 
includes no struggle of self-recovery, no power within 
striving toward recovery, it would almost take away 
the sense of our personality. We should be ciphers to 
ourselves, not men. Exactly contrary to this, it is the 
very great merit of the incarnation, that it brings 
help in a way to make it valuable. God could easily 
help us in a way to crush us, just as many human 
helpers will really make nothing of their benefi- 
ciaries, by allowing them to make nothing of them- 
selves, and be nothing for themselves. The very thing 
wanted here is to get power into the fallen race, and put 
it striving upward ; to raise a ferment of recuperative 
energy, feeling, aspiration,, choice, and whole right 
working in humanity ; exactly what the nearness and 
high sympathy of God in the incarnation must inevita- 
bly do. The Saviour being, or becoming man, the sal- 
vation dignifies and raises man even before he receives 
it; giving him the right to feel, that, coming verily as 

24 



278 SALVATION BY MAN. 

an approach of God, it is none the less a power in the 
race itself, a salvation by man. 

4. Since it is continually assumed by the scripture 
that we fall by race, or as a corporate whole, we natu- 
rally look for some recuperative grace to be entered 
into the race, by which so great disadvantage may be 
repaid or overcome. Thus, if we say " as in Adam 
all die," we want also to say, "so in Christ shall all be 
made alive." Or if we say that " through the offense of 
one many be dead," we want also to say, "much more 
the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one 
man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many." In 
this manner it is that Christ is conceived to be a 
"second Adam," a kind of new progenitor, such 
that we get in him, as it were, a new descent from 
good. 

But we are born of Adam physiologically, it will be 
remembered, and so we go down with him as a race 
by physiological consequence, while we are not thus 
born of Christ the second Adam. He only comes into 
the race at a given point, just as we do, and communi- 
cates nothing by descent to persons collateral, any more 
than we do to persons collateral to us. How then, 
being no progenitor, does he become any proper Adam 
at all ? how get himself into the race, in any such gen- 
eral way, as to become a new headship of life ? 

To this I answer, that we must not press the corres- 
pondence too closely ; it is not understood to be literal, 
or to hold in any but a general and qualified way. Let 
it be enough that as the sin abounded, so the grace 






SALVATION BY MAN. 279 

much more abounds, only not in exactly the same man- 
ner. Adam is our head physiologically, Christ is our 
head by the head influences he inaugurates, by the au- 
thority, sympathy, beauty, of his suffering goodness — 
a power that propagates across all the lines of genera- 
tion, as efficiently as if it traveled by descent — a new 
regenerative power incarnated into the race as such, 
there to work, running down through all descent, as a 
redemption of man executed in the large view by 
man. 

Observe too this very striking distinction, that good 
souls have a power to get into the race by collate- 
ral propagations of their goodness, when bad souls have 
almost no such power at all. The bad impregnate 
human feeling through falsities, and lies, and oppres- 
sions, and combinations of interest, or at best through 
the dazzling exploits of ambition. But there is a short 
run to such kind of power. Deep in evil, the world is 
yet naturally shy of evil, and begins very soon to get 
away from it. No bad character propagates long, as by 
character. Even bad writings drop out soon and die, 
as it. were, of their own poison. On the other hand it 
will be seen that good and great souls have a destiny 
of headship, propagating side-ways, and every way, till 
they become Adams in the sublime fatherhood of their 
power, and that so completely as to finally reach, and 
take headship of the race. Thus we think of Socrates, . 
for example, as a kind of progenitor in good for his 
people ; a man whose ideas, principles, sacrifices, entered 
him into the whole Greek race, and more and more 



280 SALVATION BY MAN. 

widely into the general life of the world. So of Wash- 
ington. Dying childless, he had yet many children, 
and his large posterity still multiplies more and more 
rapidly, in every part of the world. Aaron Burr was 
a man of greater splendor, but he never got into the 
world's life and feeling at all, and never became pro- 
genitor of any thing. He was dropped instinctively 
even out of the world's thought. But Washington 
goes on to be, not father of his country only, but 
world's father also; inserting his grand fatherhood into 
kings, emperors, peoples, and laws, accepted more and 
more reverently, by the compulsion of good in his life, 
and reigning, in fact, as a kind of civil- state Messiah, 
that has come to propagate his' sway in human laws and 
liberties. The civil capacity even of the world, is 
increased by the august propagations of his example 
and sentiment. 

And so it is, illustrating the great by the small, the 
divine by the human, that Jesus, the incarnate word of 
God's eternity, coming into birth and living and dying 
as a man, fills the whole race with new possibilities and 
powers, starts resurgent activities, overtops the sin 
abounding with a grace that much more abounds, and 
becomes the Adam, so to speak, of a new humanity. 
Consider now — 

5. Some of the scripture evidences of the subject. 
And here we meet, first of all, as it were at the head of 
all scripture, the remarkable and rather strangely 
worded promise, which declares that the seed of the 
woman shall bruise the serpent's head. The represent- 



SALVATION BY iTAN. 281 

ation is not that Christ, sometime hereafter to be born 
of the woman, shall bring under and finally destroy the 
bad power, though that is true, but that the woman's 
whole posterity, having Christ included, shall do it. 
God 'will of course be always present in the struggle, 
pushing it on, and turning all the crises of it, by his in- 
visible agency; while outwardly, to human apprehen- 
sion, it is but a struggle, in one view, of society and 
man. In this manner, he contrives, by the hiding of 
himself, in our otherwise poor, dejected humanity, to 
put us in confidence and keep us at a pitch of courage, 
quite above our own broken powers. 

Here and there, it is true, this interior hidden method 
is departed from, and he appears to be operating from 
without, doing something for, or upon, our humanity, 
and not through it ; working some astounding miracle, 
sending some angel, or appearing by some angelic the- 
ophany. In one case he even ordains a supernatural 
sign that is to be a kind of institution, recurring, like 
the sun itself, with astronomic regularity ; the cloud, I 
mean, by day and the pillar of fire by night. And yet 
none of these extraordinary, external things, appear to 
get much hold of the race, just because they do not 
get into it. Nothing works like a power that does not 
work by man. The sacrifice of Abraham and the 
wrestling of Jacob bring more victory and might into 
the race, as far as we can see, than the brazen serpent, 
or the waters drawn out of the rock. When, too, Christ 
comes, what is he but a man ? and though, as such, he 
has a divine power and plenitude, how careful is he to 

24* 



282 SALVATION BY MAN. 

get his attitude in the race and not above it He un- 
dertakes no outward championship. Seed of the wo- 
man, a proper man, he only gets into the common 
family register as such, and puts the struggle on, as 
being a struggle of the race itself. Perfect in all divin- 
ity even, he is still the Son of Man, claiming the appel- 
lation for himself. He dies low. And when he is 
gone, all that we know is that a gospel is born ! In 
one view there seems to be nothing here but the same 
humanity there was before, and the same hard fight still 
going on that befdre was struggling to bring the serpent 
under and to bruise his head. But it is a yery different 
fight, as respects the power of it ; for there is a Christ 
now in the race, and the whole seed of man is quick- 
ened by the sense of his divine brotherhood. 

We shall find, accordingly, that the scriptures are 
full of images, that conceive the great contest with evil 
to be a struggle in the bosom of the race itself, and 
give us the expectation that it will go on, as such, till 
it has won a complete triumph for the truth. Thus it 
is that Isaiah uses the word "increase" which does not 
mean to enlarge by additions, but by internal growth ; 
■ — "And of the increase of his government and peace 
there shall be no end." Thus it is that Daniel repre- 
sents the kingdom of the Messiah as "a stone cut out 
without hands," but a most remarkable kind of stone 
in the fact that it grows from within itself, and becomes 
a great mountain filling the whole earth. In the same 
way it is compared, by Christ himself, to a grain of 
mustard seed, which does not grow by something added 



SALVATION BY MAN. 283 

on the outside, but by an internal operation, becoming 
in that manner a tree. He compares it also to leaven 
hid in a large quantity of meal, there to work till all is 
leavened; where the working, it will be observed, is 
not the working only of the original leaven, or that of 
the atmosphere outside, but such a kind as puts the 
meal next the leaven working too, and that also on 
doing the same to what is next to it ; and so the propa- 
gated working goes on, till the whole body of the bread 
is leavened. 

Here Christ is giving, you will see, his deliberate 
opinion of the manner in which his kingdom will be 
extended. The process will be forwarded, he conceives, 
within the race itself, and will so far be human, that we 
may rightly say of it — for since by man cajne the fall 
of the world, by man came also its restored glory and 
peace. 

Observe, again, how even holy scripture is the scrip- 
ture also of man, written by man, given to the world 
by man, bearing, in every book, the particular stamp 
and style of the particular mind, in whose personal con- 
ceptions it was shaped. The subject matter too of the 
historic and biographic parts is human, showing how 
men have acted, thought, felt, suffered for the truth, 
fallen before temptation, triumphed over it. Indeed 
the value itself of these records consists, to a great 
extent, in the fact that they give us divine lessons under 
human incidents, in the molds of human character and 
life. They show us too, on a larger scale, what is the 
meaning and way of God's Providence, by the disasters 



284 SALVATION BY MAN. 

of wrong and the struggles of merit, and also by the 
overturnings and uprisings of nations. 

When we come to the writings of devotion, the 
Psalms, for example, and other chorals of scripture, 
these are human sentiments, lifted indeed by holy in- 
spirations, but none the less properly human for that 
reason — rolling in as such upon us, from the word, 
even as the tides roll in from the sea. 

The proverbs are specially human, being maxims of 
human wisdom, such as have even gained a proverbial 
currency, in the judgments of philosophy, and states- 
manship, and common life. 

The prophets, again — -these are all men speaking by 
men's words and voices. True their voices are voices 
also of GrO(^ but they are none the less human, that God 
wants to use them as such, or that he sometimes puts 
them to speaking in the first person for him, saying "I 
the Lord ;" for when he crowds himself thus into men, 
or men's voices, he onty proves how much he may 
prefer to do as man. 

The same is true of the Epistles. They are written 
by men, to men, in the words of men, under the rela- 
tionships of teacher and taught, and shepherd and flock. 
They deal with actual human conduct, in actual human 
conditions. They speak to human difficulties and 
human dangers. They show how good men suffer in 
times of persecution, how they bruise Satan under their 
feet, how fidelity triumphs ; in a word how the great 
life-struggle of the church goes on. 

A corresponding reason doubtless required the gospel 



SALVATION BY MAN. '285 

of Christ to be preached by human ^ministers. It is not 
commonly expected that theives will be sent to reform 
thieves, or perjurors to remonstrate with perjury, but 
sinners are sent to gospel sinners. God certainly could 
have taken a different method. He could have sent 
cohorts of angels flying through the air, to publish the 
good news, even as they began to do, for an hour, when 
Christ was here. He could have set the stars chiming 
with the silver music of salvation. He could have 
made the stones cry it out of the mountain tops, and 
under the ground, and under the sea. But he wants 
the great work of the redemption to go on from within 
the race itself, unfolding by internal growth, intending 
that his kingdom shall be great and finally universal, 
only because the powers or principles he has inserted 
are sufficient of themselves to make it so. 

He also constructs a corporate state, called the 
church, in which, as being corporate, and not subject to 
death, he deposits the gospel and the sacraments, and 
all the institutional appointments of religion, thus to be 
conserved and perpetuated by man. 

In the same way too, he makes the church even to be 
the pillar and ground of the truth itself; for the disci- 
ples in it are to be Christ's living epistles, gospels of the 
life, new incarnations of the word, showing always what 
is in the text, by what is expressed in their life and 
walk and character. T\"ere it not for this light contin- 
ually supplied to the written gospel, from -the lives of 
those who live it, the word of the skies would shortly 
become an utterly dead language, a kind of Sanscrit 



286 SALVATION BY MAN. 

jargon, without either salvation or intelligence in it. 
Living men are its interpretation, living men are its ar- 
guments and evidences. It lives by man. 

As the disciples are to be new incarnations, in this 
manner, of Christ, so, in a sense, they are to be vehicles 
also of the Spirit, demonstrations, revelations, of his 
otherwise nnseen or unobserved agency; and so, many 
of his most effective operations will be through their 
gifts, works, prayers, sufferings, personal testimonies, 
and the pentecostal glow of their assemblies. 

Again, last of all, and as it were to include all, it is 
given to men even to convert the world. Not that 
they, as being simply men, are able to do any such 
thing, but that Christ, the Son of Man, being entered 
into the race, and working as a leaven in the mass of 
it, will make them a leaven also to one another, and set 
the ferment on till all is leavened. And so the great 
world itself, all the empires, known or unknown, all -the 
continents, and islands undiscovered, all most distant 
ages and times are given as a trust to men, originally 
to a very few, very humble men. "Ye," said Christ, 
"are the light of the world." "Go ye into all the 
world and disciple every creature." 

I will not detain you with farther illustrations of the 
subject in hand, but will simply suggest in conclusion, 
a few points variously related, in the practical drift of 
its applications. 

We have then a very significant presumption raised, 
that when any breakage, or damage, occurs in any le- 



SALVATION BY MAN. 287 

gitimate institution, or society of the world, God has 
prepared, or put in somewhere, some kind of self- 
remedial force to mend it. Thus if any church, or 
Christian brotherhood, is rent by disagreements, embit- 
tered by recriminations, and broken, for the time, as 
regards a due confidence of the future, the remedy must 
still be in it, else it is nowhere. Even if God himself 
undertakes for it, he will accomplish his restoring pur- 
pose, in some very important sense, only by man, even 
by themselves; that is by their strivings after one 
another, their sorrowings over themselves, their prayers 
and their longings after the lost love. If there be any 
remedy for them, it must so far come out of themselves. 
Not even God will try to bring it from any other 
quarter. 

So if there be a great nation rent by faction, a good 
government broken down and trampled by rebellion, 
God has no miraculous fire to flash upon the conspira- 
tors and scorch them down. It must be enough that 
he has given a sword for the punishment of evil doers, 
that the remedy may come by man, making due use of 
it. If the people too will know that God is with them, 
let a spirit be kindled in their manly breast that shall 
take them to the field, forbidding any word of peace to 
be spoken, till the laws are vindicated and the foes of 
order crushed. If God will make a broken world 
restore itself by man, much more a broken people, and 
it will as certainly be done as there is quantity enough 
of manhood in them — enough great sentiment and pa- 
triotic fire — to do it. 



288 SALVATION BY MAN. 

Again, the immense responsibility thrown upon 
Christ's followers, in the fact that the salvation of the 
world is to be in so many ways, by man, ought to be 
distinctly admitted and practically assumed. If they 
are to preach the gospel, and light up the gospel by 
their lives, so to be the gospel, and finally to regain the 
world to God ; if Christ himself lays it on them to be 
gospelers with him, putting the world in their hands 
to be lived for, died for, won and saved, then how clear 
it is that their faith will be no relaxation of responsi- 
bility, but the begun fulfillment and seal of it rather. 
How nearly appalling too is the fact that if God has 
any good thing to be done, it is to be done somehow by 
man, and that he has the man, or men, or women, 
somewhere on whom so great a charge is laid. As he 
has undertaken to make man good, he will let the good 
that wants to be done, wait till their goodness gets pur- 
pose, and fire, and sacrifice, in a word, reality, enough 
to do it. And if they make slow progress, if the con- 
version of the world drags heavily, then so it must ; for 
God will not so far dishonor the great salvation as to 
push on the propagation of it faster than it has reality 
enough to propagate itself. If it takes a million of 
years to recover the world to God, then a million it 
must have ; for it never can be accomplished, either in 
one, or in a hundred millions, unless it is accomplished 
by man. O, how preposterous, in this view, is the soft 
opinion many hold of faith ; as if it were the faith of a 
soldier to expect that his captain will do all the fighting 
himself, and that he is never to fight under him, or win 



SALVATION BY MAN. 289 

with him ; or as if it were the true believing unto life, 
to come in, as clinical patients, and lie down upon the 
gospel to be saved by it ! No ! the salvation of God is 
no such washy and thin affair — it has meaning, it has 
dignity ; else it has no mark of God upon it. To really 
believe is to come into the great life-struggle of Jesus 
and be with him in it; to be engineering for him, 
watching for occasions to commend him, watching for 
souls to receive him, fighting for him in sacrifice, even 
as heroes-fight for their country. The salvation of the 
world by man — that is the tremendous fact which all 
true faith takes, hold of, and for which it is girded even 
by the sign of the cross. 

There is, furthermore, a great mine of comfort opened 
here, for such as have settled into heart-sickness over 
human affairs, and the want of all high movement in 
them. Some are sick because they hear no thunders, 
and see no mighty stir in the heavens. If they could 
see God converting the world by signs, and wonders, 
and mighty portents, there would seem to be something 
going on ! Nothing could be weaker than such a kind 
of gospeling. Laying no hold of us by rational evi- 
dence, it would only drum us to sleep in the tumults 
of the senses. ' And yet they are almost pining to have 
the world's dull tedium broken, by some such outward 
stir; never once recollecting that, while commotion is a 
profitless noise, real motion is silent. Another class 
are pining, in the same manner, for some new dispen- 
sation to break, that shall displace the rotten hopeless- 
ness of the old ; some second coming of Christ, some 

25 



290 SALVATION BY MAN. 

purgation by fire, some literal new heavens. They 
want a Saviour farther off and not one hid in the 
world's bosom, a Saviour in the clouds of heaven, or in 
some miraculous new city, — just the Saviour that would 
take us out of our faith and put us into our senses, and 
set us running to see, instead of resting in love to know. 
Still another class, who look for no such mock reliefs, 
are only the more sick, because seeing no good, they 
have,' beside, no hope of any. There seems to be no 
good reason why the world should continue, for it 
comes to nothing, losing always in one year, age, or 
place, what it gained in another — constitutions, laws, 
liberties, learning, commerce, religion, all swinging tid- 
ally, and as certain to go back in the ebb, as to come in 
at the flow. Why should such a hopeless, always baf- 
fling, laboring vanity be kept on foot? Why, my 
friends, because it is not hopeless ! because the grand, 
all-regenerating, force is already entered into the world, 
and is working steadily on through all retrocessions and 
advances alike. Lift up your heads O ye drooping 
ones ! Christ is in the world ! Jesus, Son of God, and 
word of God's eternity — he is about us, within us, going 
through all things, moving onward in all. Leaven 
does not make a noise when it works, and yet it works ! 
And so the gospel works, the progress goes on, a grand, 
mighty progress, and there is really no retrocession. 
No river runs to the sea more certainly or steadily, 
than the great salvation by man runs to conquest and 
a kingdom. No reason why the world should con- 
tinue ? That is unbelief. Do the men who are lifted 



SALVATION BY MAN. 291 

up to such grand heights by the progress of society 
think so? No, there is reason enough to them, why 
the world should continue ; they only steal our gospel 
and millenium, which, if we reclaim, we shall be as ju- 
bilant as they, with only so much better right. 

Let us also observe the beautiful delicacy of God in 
his plan of salvation. He is not willing to make it a 
salvation for man only, as I have said already, but con- 
trives to make it also, as far as possible, a salvation by 
man. As the seed of the woman goes down, so he 
contrives to .get a force into it that will finally bruise 
and trample its adversary. If he should do every thing 
simply as acting upon us, it would make us only un- 
derlings to eternity, waste timber of creation, that he 
has only gathered and stored for the dry-rot of a state 
of impotence, miscalled felicity. No, he wants to raise 
a character in us, and, to do this, requires a great hiding 
of power. He must contrive to put us a doing, in all 
that is to be done, striving to enter the straight gate, 
working out our salvation with fear and trembling, as 
only knowing by faith that he is working at all. And 
then his word of promise at the end will be — " to him 
that overcometh." The beauty, the delicacy, of his 
work is that he gets the force of it into our own bosom, 
and lets it work as if it were a part of ourselves. True 
it is all by Christ, and yet it is by the Christ within — 
the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. And so, 
instead of making his mercy a mere pity that kills 
respect, he makes it a power that lifts into character and 
everlasting manhood. He becomes a second Adam, a 



292 SALVATION BY MAN. 

kind of better parentage in the race itself, and we rise 
by a new derivation that nowise shames onr feeling, or 
shatters our confidence. How beautiful and tender the 
method! and when we conceive, in addition, that we 
ourselves are to preach, and live, and illustrate, and 
perpetuate, and spread, this gospel, having it as a gospel 
to prevail by man, what shall we feel eternally, but that 
our very sorrow and shame are ennobled by the grace 
we partake. And when we shall go home to be with 
Christ, Christ the faithful witness, and prince of the 
kings of the earth, what shall we do but confess, in 
loveliest homage — Unto him that loved us and washed 
us from our sins in his own blood ; raising our finale 
also to sing, in the glorified majesty of our feeling — And 
hath made us kings and priests unto Cod. 



XIV. 

THE BAD CONSCIOUSNESS TAKEN AWAY. 



"Because that the worshipers^ once purged, should have 
had no more conscience of sins ." — Heb. x, 2. 

The reading is not, you observe, "conscience of no 
more sins," — as if the sins were stopped, but "no more 
conscience of sins," — as if the conscience of sins already 
past were somehow extirpated, or else the sins taken 
quite away from it and forever extirpated themselves, 
as facts, or factors of the life. And the allegation is, 
that while the old sacrifices of the law had power to 
accomplish no such thing, it is accomplished by the 
wonderful, seemingly impossible, efficacy of the gospel 
sacrifice. Those older sacrifices could not make the 
comers thereunto perfect — perfect, that is, as pertaining 
to the conscience — and therefore they must needs be 
renewed as remembrances of sin every year; but the 
offering of the body of Jesus, once for all, was suffi- 
cient ; allowing us forever after to have no more con- 
science of sins. Now it is this practical wonder, this 
seeming impossibility accomplished by the cross, to 
which I invite your attention on the present occasion. 

25* 



294 THE BAD CONSCIOUSNESS 

It is what our apostle elsewhere calls — The mystery of 
faith in a pure, conscience. 

I fell in company, some years ago, with a college 
acquaintance — not a minister of religion, but a remark- 
ably subtle, closely scientific thinker, and withal a 
devout Christian — who said to me, in a manner and 
tone of sensibility I can never forget — My great trial in 
religion is, to find how a clean bosom, in regard to sin, 
is ever possible. I can not see how my sin can ever be 
really gotten awajr ; indeed I fall into such darkness on 
this point, when I undertake to solve it, that I quite 
lose my faith in the possibility of a real deliverance, and 
feel obliged to say with David — "my sin is ever before 
me." He went on to state his difficulty more fully, but 
as I have it on hand to make an exposition of the whole 
subject, the ground of his difficulty will be covered with 
much other ground beside. How then is it, or how 
is it to be imagined, that Christ, by his sacrifice, takes 
away the condemning conscience, or the felt dishonor 
of transgression ? This is the question we are to con- 
sider, and, if possible, answer ; in doing which I will — 

I. Go over, as briefly as may be, certain supposed 
answers, that do not appear to reach the real point of 
the question ; and — 

II. Will endeavor to exhibit and support by suffi- 
cient illustrations what appears to be the true scriptural 
answer. 

I. The supposed answers that are not sufficient. 



TAKEN AWAY. 295 

They are various and very unlike among themselves ; 
they still fall short, all of them, at the same point ; viz., 
in the fact that they do not touch, or take away at all 
from the mind, or memory, or conscience, the fact and 
shame of wrong-doing. Be the remedy this or that, 
still the man, as a man, is none the less consciously 
guilty, none the less really dishonored, shamed, damned, 
before himself. There stands the fact, unmoved and 
immovable forever, that he is a malefactor soul, none 
the better for being safe, or forgiven, or justified. 

Thus, when it is conceived that Christ has borne our 
punishment, that, if it were true, might take away our 
fear of punishment, but fear is one thing, and mortified 
honor, self-condemning guilt, self-chastising remorse, 
another and very different thing ; and that will be only 
the more exasperated, that divine innocence itself has 
been put to suffering on its account. 

Neither will it bring any relief to show that the 
justice of God is satisfied. Be it so; the transgressor 
is none the better satisfied with himself — his own self- 
damning justice is as far from being satisfied as before. 

Is it then conceived that what has satisfied the justice 
of Grod, has also atoned the guilty conscience ? "Will it 
then make the guilty conscience less guilty, or say 
sweeter things of itself, that it sees innocence, purity, 
goodness divine, put to suffering for it ? If any thing 
could exasperate, even insupportably, the sense of guilt, 
it should be that. 

Is it then brought forward to quell the guilt of the 
conscience that Christ has evened our account legally by 



296 THE BAD CONSCIOUSNESS 

his sacrifice, and that we are even justified of God, for 
Christ's sake ? But if God, in this manner, and by a kind 
of benevolent fiction, calls us just, do we any the less cer- 
tainly disapprove and damn ourselves even to eternity ? 
Nothing it would seem can save us from it, but to lose 
the integrity of our judgments ! 

Forgiveness taken as a mere release of claim, or a 
negative letting go of right against transgression, brings, 
if possible, even less help to the conscience. Christ had 
forgiven his crucifiers in his dying prayer, but it was 
the very crime of the cross, nevertheless, that pricked 
so many hundreds of hearts on the day of pentecost. 
Christ had forgiven them, but their consciences had 
not! 

But Christ renews the soul itself, it will be said, and 
makes it just within; when, of course, it will be justi- 
fied. That does not follow. If Judas at the very point 
where he confessed — "I have betrayed the innocent 
blood," could have been instantly transformed into an 
angel of beauty, his purified sensibility would have 
been shaken, I think, with a greater horror even of his 
crime than before. 

But the fatherhood of God — the disciple of another 
and different school will take refuge under that, and 
say, that here, at leas^ there is truly no more conscience 
of sins. Would it not be strange, if a tolerably good 
father can forgive and forget, and God can not? But 
who is God, and what most fitly represents him? a 
mortal father who is able, just because of his weakness, 
to forgive and forget, or to forgive without forgetting, 



TAKEN AWAY. 297 

or to forget without forgiving, or the transgressor's own 
everlasting immutable conscience, which can neither 
forgive nor forget? What is this conscience, in fact, 
but God's throne of judgment in the man? Why, if 
(rod, in his fatherhood, were such a kind of being, 
dealing in laxities and fond accommodations, having no 
care for his rectoral honor, as the defender of right and 
order, we certainly are not such to ourselves. A con- 
science that can say, " no matter; God is rather loose and 
very easy with his children, therefore I will be to my- 
self as good as good in my sin, and let the matter go," — 
I certainly, for one, whatever may be said by others, 
have no conscience that can go in that loose gait. I 
love my conscience because it is the one thing in me 
that goes true and will unalterably, inevitably damn 
my wrongs, even if God should let them go. Nay, if 
God be such a God, it would even set me in a shudder, 
to find how easily I might sigh for a being whom I can 
more sufficiently respect. 

You perceive in this recital, my friends, how great a 
matter we have undertaken, and how very obstinate, or 
intractable, our difficulty is. Doubtless a foul vessel 
may be washed, a fracture mended, a personal injury 
redressed, a sick body restored to health and soundness, 
and dressed in a new covering of flesh ; nay, there is a 
clear possibility of raising the dead to life, but to con- 
ceive a sinner so wrought in as to obliterate the fact of 
his sin, leaving no more conscience of it, is a very dif- 
ferent matter, and if the possibility were not really 
shown by the gospel itself, we must certainly give up 



298 THE BAP CONSCIOUSNESS 

the question, as one that we can not solve, by any 
faculty that God has given us. We come then — 

II. To the question as it is, and the answer given it 
by the scriptures of God. 

The great question meeting us at this point is, whether 
it is possible, or how far possible, to change the con- 
sciousness of a soul, without any breach .of its identity ? 
In this manner, we shall find, the gospel undertakes to 
remove, and assumes the fact of a removal of, the dis- 
honor and self-condemnation of sin. But we shall con- 
ceive the matter more easily and naturally, if we notice, 
before going into the scripture inquiry, certain analogies 
discoverable in our human state, which may serve as 
approaches to the proper truth of the question. 

Thus a thoroughly venal, low-principled man, elected 
President of the United States, will undergo, not un- 
likely, an inward lifting of sentiment and impulse, cor- 
responding with the immense lift of his position. The 
great honor put upon him makes him willing to honor 
himself. He wants to deserve his place and begins to act 
in character in it. He is the same man, regarding his 
personal identity, but he is raised, even to himself, in 
the grade he occupies. His old natural consciousness 
has a kind of Presidential consciousness superinduced, 
which holds a higher range of quality. He lives, ii* 
fact, Presidentially, and is dignified inwardly by the 
dignities of his position. 

How many thousand soldiers, who before were living 
in the low, mean vices, lost to character and self-respect, 



TAKEN AWAY. 299 

have been raised, in like manner, in our armies, to 
quite another grade of being. It has given them a 
wholly different sense of themselves, that their dear, 
great country has come upon them in so great power. 
They are consciously ennobled, in the fact that they 
have borne themselves heroically in the field ; and are 
so become another kind of man even to themselves. 
They are the same, yet by a vast reach of distance not 
the same. A certain great something has come into 
their feeling. They stand more firmly, and bear them- 
selves more erectly ; and it gives them an exultant feel- 
ing even, that their discouraged and miserably forlorn 
consciousness is gone — supplanted by the sense of self- 
respect, and manly honor. 

The same, again, is true in a different way, of all the 
gifted ones in art and speech and poetry, when they are 
taken by the inspirations of genius. When such a soul, 
that was down upon the level of uses, torturing itself 
into production for applause, or even for bread, begins 
to behold God's signatures upon his works, and worlds, 
and the magnificent discipline he gives us ; discovering 
in objects ideas, in facts the faces of truth ; catching also 
the fires of a Promethean heat from all subtlest moods 
and hardest flints of experience ; — then it is become, to 
itself, quite another creature. It is as if the grub-state 
were gone by, and the winged life had broken loose, to 
try the freedom of the air. In that finer element he 
ranges at will, lifted by his etherial seership, to move in 
altitudes hitherto in visited; consciously another and 
different being— another, yet still the same. 



300 THE BAD CONSCIOUSNESS 

In these and other like examples, afforded us in the 
field of our natural life, we are made familiar with the 
possibility of remarkable liftings in the consciousness of 
men, such as make them really other to themselves, and 
set them in a higher range of being; and, by these 
examples, we are prepared, as it were beforehand, to 
that more wonderful ascent above ourselves which is 
accomplished in Christ, when he takes us away from the 
conscience of sins. He does it — this is the general, or 
inclusive truth that covers the whole ground of the 
subject — by so communicating God, or himself as the 
express image of God, that he changes, in fact, the 
plane of our existence. Without due note of this, we 
do not understand Christianity ; the very thing it pro- 
poses is to bring us up into another level, where the 
consciousness shall take in other matter, and have a 
higher range. Thus, when the apostle says — "And 
hath raised us up together and made us sit together in 
heavenly places in Christ Jesus," he is speaking of a 
change purely internal, a conscious lifting to another 
grade of life, and a higher range of joy. The word 
places, here occurring, belongs to the English only, and 
it is put in to fill out the plural of the neuter adjective 
heavenlies, used here as a noun. But sitting in the 
heavenlies, does not mean, of necessity, sitting in other 
localities. It means sitting in heaventy things, as well ; 
above the world, that is, and the flesh and sin, in the 
serene, pure element of God's eternal love and glory, 
there to be folded in harmony, raised in consciousness, 
filled to the full with all God's heavenlies, even as his 



TAKEN AWAY. 301 

angels are; no more to be shamed forever by the 
little, defiled consciousness that is henceforth over- 
spread, submerged, and drowned by the sea-full of 
God's infinite worthiness and righteousness wafted in 
upon it. 

Now it must not be imagined that this one passage of 
scripture stands by itself in asserting such a sentiment. 
The whole New Testament is full of it. " If ye then be 
risen with Christ seek those things which are above 
where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God," — " Hath 
made us kings and priests unto God," — "A chosen 
generation — a royal priesthood," — "Partakers of the 
divine nature," — " Sons of God," — In all such modes of 
expression, and a hundred others that might be cited, we 
have the same thought breaking out on our discovery ; 
that Christ is lifting us out of shame and condemnation, 
into a higher plane and a footing of conscious affilia- 
tion with God. 

But you will not conceive how very essential this 
idea of a raising of the consciousness may be, if you do 
not bring up distinctly the immense fall of our mortal 
consciousness, in the precipitation of our sin. In their 
true normal condition, as originally created, human 
souls are inherently related to God, made permeable 
and inspirable by him, intended to move in his divine 
impulse forever. A sponge in the sea is not more truly 
made to be filled and permeated by the water in which 
it grows, than a soul to be permeated and possessed by 
the Infinite Life. It is so made that, over and above 
the little, tiny consciousness it has of itself, it may have 

26 



302 THE BAD CONSCIOUSNESS 

a grand, all-inclusive consciousness of God. In that 
conciousness it was to be, and be lifted and blessed 
evermore. The senses it should have of God, always 
present, were to be its dignity, its base of equilibrium, 
its everlasting strength, and growth, and majesty, and 
reigning power in good. 

But this higher consciousness, the consciousness of 
God, is exactly what was lost in trangression, and 
nothing was left of course but the little, defiled con- 
sciousness of ourselves, in which we are all contriving 
how to get some particles of good, or pleasure, or pride, 
or passion, that will comfort us. The great, inspirable, 
and divinely permeable faculty, is closed up. We do 
not know God any more, we only know ourselves. 
"We have the eyes, and the ears, that were given us, but 
we are too blind to see, too deaf to hear — " Having the 
understanding darkened, being alienated from the life 
of God, through the ignorance that is in us because of 
the blindness of our heart." The true normal footing 
or plane of our humanity was thus let down, and it is 
exactly this which Christ undertakes to restore. And 
until that restoration is accomplished, the soul occupies 
a plane of mere self-knowing, and self-loving, and is, in 
fact, a lower order of being. It lives in the conscience 
of sins, a guilty, self-denouncing, and miserably shamed 
life. But as soon as it is opened to God, by the faith 
of Jesus Christ, and is truly born of God, it begins to 
be the higher creature God meant it to be — the same 
yet another. It is no more like the sponge stuck fast 
on some dry rock, but like the same, filled and vitalized 



TAKEN AWAY. 303 

by its own proper element, and spreading itself in its 
possessorship, so to speak, of the sea ! 

It is of course to be admitted that the disciple, raised 
thus in his plane, has the same conscience, and remem- 
bers the same sins, and is the very same person that he 
was before ; but the consciousness of God, now restored, 
makes him so nearly another being to himself, that the* 
old torment of his sin will scarcely so much as ripple 
the flow of his pea,ce. It takes, in fact, a considerable 
rock, a little way oat from the shore, to do more than 
dimple or curl the tide-swell coming in ; and the sea, 
at the full, will simply bury it and hide it from the 
sight, in the depths of its own stillness. Or we may im- 
agine, without much danger of extravagance, that when 
a soul is really filled with the higher consciousness, 
moving wholly in the divine movement, so great a lift- 
ing of character, and qualit}^ and action, will carry it 
above the old range so completely, as to let the wrong 
and shame quite drop away ; even as the insect creatures 
hovering on wings about us, flitting in swift motion, 
and playing with the air and the light, remember 
probably no more the cold, slow worms they were, when 
crawling, but a week ago, in the ground. 

You will understand, of course, that if Christ is purg-. 
ing thus men's consciences, by lifting them above them- 
selves, into a higher range of life, the conception will 
appear and reappear, in many distinct forms, and weave 
itself, in so many varieties, into the whole texture of 
Christianity. Notice then three distinct forms, not to 
speak of others, in which this change of grade or 



304 THE BAD CONSCIOUSNESS 

personal consciousness conies into view as a mighty 
gospel fact. 

As the first of these, I name justification, on justification 
by faith. The grand last point or final effect of Christian 
justification is, "no more conscience of sins;" for, hav- 
ing that accomplished, it is inconceivable that God 
should condemn us when we do not condemn ourselves, 
and having it not accomplished, but condemning still 
ourselves, no justification by God will do us any good. 
But in this matter of justification, the less we make of 
the old standing alternative the better; what if it 
should happen that, while we are debating which of 
two conceptions is the true one, they are neither of them 
true ? And so I think it will sometime be found. 
According to the scripture, which is very plain, gospel 
justification turns on no such mere objective matter as 
the squaring of an account; nor on any such subjective 
matter as our being made inherently righteous ; but it 
turns on the fact of our being so invested with God, 
and closeted in his righteous impulse, that he becomes 
a felt righteousness upon us. Our consciousness is so 
far changed, in this manner, by the river-flood of God's 
character upon us, that, as long as our faith keeps the 
connection good, and permits the river to flow, we are 
raised above all condemnation and have no more con- 
science of sins. Inherently speaking we are not right- 
eous; our store is in God not in ourselves; but we 
have the supply traductively from him, just as we do 
the supply of light from the sun. But the new divine 
consciousness in which we live is continually conforming 



TAKEN AWAY. 305 

us, more and more deeply, and will settle ns, at last, in 
its own pure habit. In this manner, faith is counted to 
us for righteousness, because it holds us to God, in 
whom we have our springs of supply. 

See how beautifully and simply Paul sets forth this 
true Christian idea of justification — " But now the 
righteousness of God, without the law, is manifested, 
even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of 
Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe." 
It is not righteousness for us in a book, nor in us by 
inherent character, but righteousness unto us and upon 
us, in its own living flow, as long as we believe. It is 
a higher consciousness which God generates and feeds, 
and as long as he does it there is no more conscience of 
sins. 

This same truth of a raising of our plane appears in 
another form, in what is called the witness of the Spirit. 
"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that 
we are the children of God ; and if children then heirs, 
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ." Here the 
conception is that, as being spirit, we are permeable by 
the divine Spirit, and that he has a way of working in 
our working, so as to be consciously known as a better 
presence in our hearts. And so we have the confidence 
of children or sons, raised in our before low-bred nature, 
and dare to count ourselves God's heirs — fellow heirs 
with Christ our brother. Nothing is said of sins in this 
connection, but we can see for ourselves that, being thus 
ennobled by the inflowing Spirit, we shall be too much 
raised in the confidence of our dignity, to be troubled, 

26* 



306 THE BAD CONSCIOUSNESS 

or sliamed by the past. And this same lifting, or en- 
nobling of our spirit, is put in other forms of assertion ; 
as when Christ, promising the Comforter, says — "At 
that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye 
in me, and I in you." To be thus interlocked with the 
Father and the Son in a firm knowledge of the fact, 
revealed by the witnessing Spirit, is to have a conscious- 
ness opened that is dignity itself and glory begun. 
The same thing is put more practically, by the apostle, 
when he says — " Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not 
fulfill the lusts of the flesh." Keep fast in the higher 
element, where the senses of God and his joy are lifting 
the mind into liberty, and the lower and more carnal 
impulses will be left behind and forgot. 

Once more this grand fact of the gospel, the raising 
of our plane of being, is presented in a still different 
manner in what is said of the conscious inhabitation of 
Christ "Christ in you the hope of glory," — "But ye 
see me," — "Abide in me," — " Until Christ be formed in 
you." But the great apostle to the Gentiles, himself a 
Christian man, all through, having that for his sublime 
distinction, declares himself, on this point, out of his 
very consciousness — "I am crucified with Christ, never- 
theless I live ; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." It is, 
you perceive, as if his being itself were taken well nigh 
out of its identity by Christ revealed in it. The old sin 
— he does not think of it. The old I — why it is gone — 
' ' yet not I." He was going to say that he Paul was alive, 
but he did not like to say so much as that, and so he puts 
down his negative on it, and says he does not live. But 



TAKEN AWAY. 307 

O, the living, all-quickening Christ — that is boasting 
enough — " Christ liveth in me ; for the life I now live in 
the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved 
me and gave himself for me." How great a fact was 
the lifting of this man's plane, which took him, demon- 
ized by bigotry and hate, and made him the hero and 
strangely Christed propagator of the cross. Then he 
was Saul, now he is Paul ; but the change touches more 
than a letter — he is raised even in his own feeling to quite 
another order of being. The conscience of sins — it may 
be that he has it in a sense ; for, being an eternal fact, 
he must eternally know it ; but the Christ-consciousness 
in him ranges so high above the self-consciousness, that 
he lives in a summit of exaltation, which the infinitesi- 
mal disturbances of his human wrong and shame can 
not reach. 

Here then, my friends, you have opened to view one 
of the greatest triumphs of Christianity, perhaps the 
very greatest of all. To bring a clean thing out of an 
unclean is a much easier matter than to make a good 
conscience out of an evil or accusing conscience. Here 
the difficulty appears to be a kind of metaphysical im- 
possibility. Indeed there is no philosopher, who would 
not say, beforehand, that such a thing is even demon- 
strably impossible. For if the accusing conscience ac- 
cuses rightly, then it must either be extirpated, which 
decomposes the man, or else it must be suborned to 
give a lying testimony, when of course it will even 
condemn itself. But our gospel is able to look so great 



308 • THE BAD CONSCIOUSNESS 

a difficulty in the face, and, what is more, turns it by a 
method so very simple as to be even sublime. When 
once you have conceived the possibility of raising a soul 
into a higher grade and order, where the consciousness 
shall take in more than the mere self, the body of. God's 
own righteousness, and love, and peace, the problem is 
solved and that in a way so plain, yet so easily enno- 
bling to our state of shame, that it proves itself by its 
own self-supporting evidence. This we say instinctively 
ought to be and must be true. 

Only the more strange is it that, when this way of 
remedy is, and no other can be, sufficient, we so easily 
fall out of our faith, and begin to put ourselves on 
methods of purgation that only mock our endeavor. 
Having the grand possibilities of a good conscience 
opened to us in Christ, and nothing given us to do but 
just to receive by faith the manifested righteousness of 
God, we begin to work, in the lower level of our shame, 
upon the shameful unclean matter, as if going to purge 
it ourselves. One will mend himself up in a way of 
self-correction ; which, if he could do, would, alas, not 
even touch the conscience of his old sins. Another 
goes to the work of self-cultivation, where he may pos- 
sibly start some plausible amenities on the top of his 
bad conscience, even as flowers will sometimes be in- 
duced to grow upon a glacier. Another will pacify his 
bad conscience by his alms and philanthropic sacrifices, 
when an avalanche on its way could as well be pacified 
by the same. Others will make up a purgation by their 
repressive penances and voluntary humiliations, when 



TAKEN AWAY. 309 

the very thing their consciences complain of is, that 
they are too miserably shamed and humiliated already. 
Multitudes also will expect much from purgatorial fires 
hereafter, as if being duly chastised could make a good 
• conscience! or as if these supposed fires would not 
rather burn in the brand of sin than burn it out ! ]N"ow 
these poor scanty methods of delusion, unlike as they 
are to each other, are just as good one as another, 
because they are all equally worthless. Who could 
believe that rational beings, having so grand a way 
open to the new footing of sons of God, and having 
once conceived that way, could yet subside into these 
wretched futilities ? 

Worthier of sympathy but scarcely more worthy of 
the gospel name, are those hapless souls, who have 
fallen under their bad conscience to be forever harrowed 
and tormented by it. They' have no faith to believe in 
a concrete, personal grace, and are only haunted by the 
nightmare of their moral convictions. They mope 
along their pathway therefore, looking always shame- 
fully down ; as if the sky above were paved with con- 
demnations. If they bear the Christian name, they have 
yet no real peace, no sweet element of rest and confi- 
dence. They seem ever to be saying, " mine iniquities 
have taken hold upon me so that I am not able to look 
up." Or sometimes there is a trouble more specific — 
some one sin, the shame, the inward mortification, or 
damnation of which, follows them, day and night, and 
even year by year ; a crime unknown to the world, but 
for which they inwardly blush, or choke with guilty 



310 THE BAD CONSCIOUSNESS 

pain, whenever it meets them alone. They seem to be 
even everlastingly dishonored before themselves. Per- 
haps they are, and fitly should be; but, my friends, 
there is a medicine for all such torments. Looking 
down upon your sins, or your particular sin, you can 
be, must be, everlastingly shamed ; but if you can look 
away to Christ, take hold of Christ and rise with him, 
you shall go above your trouble, you shall be strong, 
and free, and full, and even righteous; established in 
all glorious confidence, because your very consciousness 
is lifted and glorified, by what comes into it from God's 
eternal concourse and friendship. 

And here, just here, in fact, we strike the culminating 
point of wonder and glory in what Christ, by his more 
perfect offering, has been able and was even required to 
accomplish, to put us on a footing of complete salvation ; 
viz., a restoration, forever, of the soul's lost honor. We 
could not take our place among the pure angels of God, 
and be really united to their blessedness, when we are 
inwardly self-disgusted, shamed, and even to be eternally 
stigmatized, by our condemning consciences. Nothing 
sufficiently restores us, which does not restore the mind's 
honor. And this, exactly, is our confidence; "that we 
are to be found unto praise, and honor, and glory, at the 
appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ." "We are even 
called to "seek for honor, and glory, and immortality." 
What dishonor, what possible shame, can be our tor- 
ment, when our very consciousness is robed in the right- 
eousness of God ? There is to be no more condemnation, 
no more conscience of sins ; simply because we are so 



TAKEN AWAY. 311 

raised in the plane of our sentiment, and life, that we 
may think of ourselves, without any sense of dishonor 
upon us. We go in — heirs, sons, princes of God — join- 
ing ourselves boldly to all the royalties and sublime 
honors of the kingdom. 

Are there none of us, my friends, that have many 
times sighed after just this hope, nay, that are sighing 
for it now ? You have lost forever, you say, the chas- 
tity of your nature, you are and must forever be a guilty 
man; how then can you ever think of yourself 
without mortification ? Getting into heaven itself, what 
can you ever do with so many bad facts upon you, and 
a bad conscience in you testifying eternally against 
them ? Xo ! no ! There is even to be given back the 
sense of honor that was lost. You shall go in, not to 
hang your head, but to hold it up in praise and confi- 
dence. !N"ow that mighty word is fulfilled according to 
its utmost meaning — "raised up together to sit in the 
heavenlies." "We are there "together" in the common 
fold, we "sit" there in a titled security, the "heaven- 
lies " are all ours — the honor, the confidence, the peace, 
the praise. my God, what reverence shall every 
creature have for every other, when thou pattest honor 
upon all ! gathering in before thee, nothing which cle- 
fileth, or abideth in shame, but only such as Christ hath 
raised to eternal honor, before both thee and themselves ! 



XV. 

THE BAD MIND MAKES A BAD ELEMENT 



"Then answered the Jews and said unto him — say we 
not well, that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?" 
— John viii, 48. 

It is often remarked as a curious, half ludicrous dis- 
tinction of insane persons, that they look on others 
round them as being out of their head. And vet this 
kind of phenomenon is more or less observable, in all 
cases of diseased action, whether mental or spiritual; 
the subject sees his disorder, not in himself, but in the 
objects and conditions round him. 

Under the disease or disaffection called sin, the same 
is true ; as we may see by the answer of these carping 
hypocrites, when Christ reproves their high pretenses, 
and sanctimonious lies. "You call yourselves children 
of Abraham," he says, "when you do none of his 
works, when your fatherhood is more truly discovered 
in the father of lies. And as he abode not in the truth, 
and has no truth in him, so because I tell you the 
truth ye believe me not." They feel the sharpness of 
the words, but do not perceive the solemn justice of 
the argument — throwing it captiously back upon him 
as in the text; "say we not well, that thou art a Sama- 



THE BAD MIND, ETC. 313 

ritan and hast a devil?" Just as they should if his ar- 
gument was true; for the men who have a devilish 
spirit are sure to see their devil objectively in others. 
There must be a devil on hand somewhere, they are 
sure, and who will expect them to find it where it is, in 
themselves? The truth accordingly which I now pro- 
pose for your consideration is this : 

That a bad mind sees bad things, and mokes to itself a 
lad element. In other words, a bad mind projects its 
own evils into persons and conditions round it ; charg- 
ing the pains of its own inward disorder to the objects 
that refuse to bless it, and counting, it may be, Christ 
himself a sting only of annoyance. 

It would be far more agreeable to me to assert this 
truth universally, or so as to include the good ; show- 
ing how they convert all things to good by their bright 
and loving spirit, and how the stones even of the field 
are in league with them to bless them ; but this would 
take me over too large a ground, and therefore I must 
be content to occupy you, for the time, with a subject 
not grateful in itself, hoping that you may even find the 
greater benefit in it. If the errand we are after is not 
pleasant, if it compels us to go burrowing into the 
dark, underground, abysses and pains of evil in the 
soul, let us not recoil from the task, because we find a 
great deal of our conceit inverted and a great many of 
our complaints of God and the world turned back upon 
ourselves. 

I do not mean, of course, to say, that we can Lave 
nothing to complain of, or that other men can not do 

27 



314 THE BAD MIND 

us bitter wrongs. Neither do I undertake to say, that 
we shall not feel them. But he that suffers a wrong 
rightly, finds a law of compensation going with him, as 
with God, so that his injury, or injured feeling, is 
repaid many times over, like that of God, by the con- 
sciously sublime repose of his own self-approving spirit. 
And, this being true, it is only the bad mind in us, 
after all, that allows us to be really troubled and har- 
assed by wrong. I will only add that what I am 
going to say may seem to be an over-statement, or ex- 
aggeration of the truth, without this qualification, and 
must therefore ask to have it remembered. 

We shall best open the gate of our argument on this 
subject, if we notice two great facts, or laws of our 
nature, which are the ground of this tendency in us to 
refer our own evils to things about us, and in the same 
way to keep us from a discovery of them as being in 
ourselves. 

First, by a fixed necessity of language, we are 
obliged, apart from all the blinding effects of our sin, to 
represent a great part of what transpires in our experi- 
ence, in a way of objective description. For example, 
it is the natural way of language to call things "hot," 
"sweet," "bitter," and the like, when in fact the words 
really describe nothing but our own inward sensations. 
So we say that a " subject is dark," not because there is 
any thing dark in the subject, but that we are dark to 
it. So again we say that a thing bears a "suspicious 
look," when we are suspicious of it; or of some spec- 



MAKES A BAD ELEMENT. 315 

tacle that it "is fearful," when we are fearfully moved 
by it. We speak in the same way of "taking our 
chances" and "meeting our dangers," when in fact 
there is neither chance nor danger in things at all, but 
only an absolute certainty that this or that will take 
place. The uncertainty, or ignorance of what is to 
come is in us, and we call it chance or danger in things. 
Now the great part of mankind go through life, using 
every hour these objective terms of language, without 
ever once suspecting that what they describe as 
without, is nothing but an experience within them- 
selves. Almost all staple words of language, as related 
to our inward experience, are of just this kind; it 
could not, as might easily be shown, have been other- 
wise. In this manner, we put almost all that we suffer, 
enjoy, feel, and think, into the objects and doings and 
characters round us, not understanding that what we 
figure, as in them, is really transpiring in ourselves — 
just as we say, how often, that we have "taken a cold," 
and verily believe that a cold something, we know not 
what, has seized us ; whereas we have simply gotten up 
a fever — probably by over-indulgence — and then the 
shiverings and atmospheric chills that follow we take 
for the causes of the mischief. 

But there is another great condition, or law of expe- 
rience in bad minds, that is operating always and more 
powerfully in the same direction. A bad mind lives in 
things and for things, or we might rather say, under 
things. Condition, pleasure, show, are its god. And 
then it follows that the worship is only another name 



316 THE BAD MIND 

for distemper, unreason, hallucination. It is not posi- 
tively insane, but what is very nearly the same thing, 
unsane — a nature out of joint, poisoned, racked with 
pains, a cloudy, wild, ungoverned, misconceiving power. 
It knows nothing but things, and if things do not bless 
it, what can it do but fall to cursing them? Being a 
distempered organ, it sees its distempers only in things 
and conditions round it. Thus when a diseased ear 
keeps up a nervous drumming in the brain, all sweetest 
music will have that drumming in it. So if the taste is 
bittered by some dyspectic woe, it will find that bitter 
savor in all most delicate things, and even in the pure 
waters of the spring. So also, I suppose, if the humors 
of the eye were jaundiced, the pure light of heaven 
would be yellowed also. Even the sun is smoky, seen 
through a smoked glass. Just so we are meeting all 
sorts of bitter, painful, and bad things, in our life, just 
because we are bitter, painful, bad, ourselves, and can 
not see that this is the root of our misery. 

Besides it is a fact, under this great law of retributive 
disorder, that even good things are really bad to our 
feeling, because there is a bad mind in us. They are 
not given to be our torment, but the subjective badness 
of the soul makes them so; just as the weakness of the 
diseased eye makes the light a cause of injury and pain. 
The light is not bad in itself, but the receiving organ is 
bad, and so the pure light, image itself of God, shoots 
in arrows of pain that sting the bod} 7 . In the same 
way selfishness and sin make the whole soul a diseased 
receiving organ ; when, of course, every thing received 



MAKES A BAD ELEMENT. 317 

or looked upon is bad, and imparts some kind of pain. 
The good law is made death unto it, Christ himself a 
savor of death. Truth is bad to us, holy men are a dis- 
turbance, life a burden, death a terror, heaven itself a 
world of constrained service and unreal or impossible 

"We come now to the matter of fact itself. Is it only 
theory of which we have been speaking, or is it fact ? 

Here we make our appeal first of all to the scripture, 
where the illustrations are manifold and striking. There 
was never among men a more inoffensive, winning, and 
beautiful character than Joseph. But his brethren 
hated him and could not speak peaceably to him — 
hated him so intensely that they were willing to put 
him out of the way, by almost any method, however 
cruel. They talked with one another about him, 
painted him as a selfish, proud brother, and set him off 
in the most odious colors. Having a bad mind towards 
him, they saw only bad and hateful things in him. 
But the bad things were all in themselves, not in him. 
His only crime was his worth, and the beauty of his 
spirit, and that God, on this account, had advanced 
him, giving him the precedence his character deserved. 

So with Saul; the devil of jealousy creeps into his 
morbid, selfish heart, and he sees in David, the faith- 
ful servant of his throne, a scheming usurper only and 
traitor, waiting to vault into his place. He is wrought 
up thus to such a pitch of fear and malice, that, in one 
of his paroxysms, he hurls a javelin at his head. The 

27* 



318 THE BAD MIND 

evil he sees in David is really in his own wild, ugly- 
passion, but instead of strangling that, he tries to 
murder him ! 

Equally mad, exceedingly mad, almost conscien- 
tiously mad, as he himself relates, was Saul, the young 
rabbi of Tarsus, though in a different vein. The fiery 
young zealot was hot against Jesus, hot against Stephen, 
hot also against all the disciples of the new religion ; 
but the heat of his passion he afterwards discovered was 
in the bad fire of his own bad mind, and the miserable 
bigotry that possessed him. 

It is also a fact most remarkable, evincing the same 
thing, that Jesus Christ, the only spotless and perfect 
character that ever breathed the air of our planet, was 
more accused and hated, and charged with worse crimes, 
than it ever fell to the lot of any mortal to perpetrate. 
He was not only a Samaritan and had a devil, but he 
cast out devils by a devil, he broke the Sabbath, he was 
a mover of sedition, he made himself equal with God, 
he spoke blasphemy, he was a conspirator against 
Caesar, his silence was called obstinacy, his eating and 
drinking gluttony and drunkenness, his cross the proof 
of his weakness and a fit mark for jeering, his death his 
defeat as an impostor and his final expulsion from the 
world. And yet there was nothing in him to irritate, 
or anger good men. His life was beauty itself, his spirit 
breathed the pure benignity even of God. Yes, and 
for just this reason, he disturbed the bad mind of men 
only the more bitterly. Troubled, heated, moved with 
jealousy, convinced of evil, they all rushed upon him 



MAKES A BAD ELEMENT. 3iU 

as the troubler; becoming, at last, so exasperated 
against him, as to break out — priests, rabbis, senators, 
soldiers, populace — crying, all with one voice, crucify 
him, crucify him. See them gathering round his cross, 
hear their coarse mockeries and jeers! the poor fools 
have no thought or suspicion, that they are raging, in 
this diabolical malice, against exasperating causes that 
are after all in themselves ! 

The same truth is continually thrust upon our ob- 
servation, in the intercourse of life. The passionate, ill- 
natured man is an example, living always in stormy 
weather, even though it be the quiet of dew-fall round 
him — always wronged, always hurt, always complaining 
of some enemy. He has no conception that this enemy 
is in his own bosom — in the sourness, the ungoverned 
irritability, the habitual ill-nature of his own bad spirit 
and character. I speak not here of some single burst 
of passion, into which a man of amiable temper may, 
for once, be betrayed ; but I speak, more especially, of 
the angry characters — always brewing in some tempest 
of violated feeling. They have a great many enemies, 
they are unaccountably ill-treated, and can not under- 
stand why it is. They have no suspicion that they see 
and suffer bad things because they are bad, that being 
ill-natured is about the same thing as having ill-treat- 
ment, and that all the enemies they suffer from are 
snugly closeted in their own devilish temper. 

The same is true of fretful persons — men and women 
that wear away fast and die, because they have worried 
life completely out. Nothing goes right ; husband, or 



320 THE BAD MIND 

wife, or child, or customer, or sermon. They are 
pricked and stung at every motion they make, and 
wonder why it is that others are permitted to float along 
so peacefully, and they never suffered to have= a moment 
of peace in their lives ! And the very simple reason is 
that life is a field of nettles to them, because their fret- 
ful, worrying tempers, are always pricking out, through 
the tender skin of their uneasiness. Why, if they were 
set down in Paradise, carrying their bad mind with' 
them, they would fret at the good angels, and the cli- 
mate, and the colors even of the roses. 

The animosities of the world are commonly to be 
solved in the same way — "Hateful and hating one 
another." A purely good mind would not hate even 
the worst of enemies and wrong-doers, but would have 
a sublime joy in loving him still. Thus we have one 
kind of enmity that hates differences of thought and 
sentiment, and is continually rasped by the fact that 
other men are so generally wrong-headed. Commonly 
the difficulty is prejudice, or bigotry in ourselves, 
reigning as a narrow, self-willed principle in the heart. 
Another misery we suffer, in the pride, and the high 
airs, and the ambition, and the undeserved successes of 
others. We wish there was some justice in the world, 
and that such people had their due ! This now is envy 
in the soul, green-eyed, sick, self-tormenting envy. 
Then, again, we have it as another form of misery, that, 
having injured some one, we for that reason hate him ; 
and there is no hatred so implacable, so bitter, and so 
like the pain of hell, as that which a man has to one 



MAKES A BAD ELEMENT. 321 

whom he has injured — not to one who has injured him, 
but to one whom he has injured himself. And jet he 
will charge it not to himself, but only to the unaccount- 
able fact, that the object of his malice must be so bad, 
so unmitigably hateful. 

So again in regard to things of condition. The poor 
hypochondriac is just ready to be stranded in utter pov- 
erty and distress, though he holds, it may be, millions of 
property. We laugh at the strange fatuity he suffers. 
But every selfish mind is in it, only in some different 
way, or in some less exaggerated and palpably absurd 
form. Thus, what care, fear, anxiety, hunger, eager- 
ness, is there in the world ; and the secret of it is, that 
we are all imagining some fault in our condition. We 
want condition. Our thirsty, weary, discontented soul 
finds all it wants of blessedness denied, and wonders 
why it is that God has given us such a miserable desert 
to live in ; as if the desert were in the world and not in 
ourselves — an immense Sahara wider than Africa 
knows I Why, if we were in the midst of God's own 
paradise, carrying our bad mind with us, we should see 
the desert there. The inward dearth and desolation of 
a mind separated from God and the all-sufficing rest and 
fullness of his peace, would raise mutinous questions 
and harsh accusations of dryness, against the finest, most 
superlative felicity God has ever been able to invent for 
his angels themselves. 

Let us not omit to notice that the immoralities and 
crimes of the world are commonly conceived, by those 
who are in them, to be not of themselves, but to be 



322 " 



THE BAD MIND 



chargeable on the bad causes round them. What is 
more continually asserted by thieves and gamblers, 
than the maxim that the world owes them a living; 
till, finally, they half teach themselves to feel that the 
world wrongs them, because it does not pay what it 
owes, but requires them to take the pay as they may 
find it. Whereas the bottom fact of all is, that they 
hate the bad necessity of work. The blasphemer, 
raging in a storm of imprecations and swearing by all 
sacred names — he is saying inwardly, even if no one 
remonstrates with him, how can I help it ? an angel 
would speak some bad words, if he had such a horse as 
this to manage, or such a neighbor to deal with. The 
poor victim of drink — was he not disinherited by his 
father? or broken down by the slanders of enemies? or 
troubled by loads of debt from misfortunes that over- 
took him ? or married to a wife who was a perpetual 
thorn to his peace? Was he not driven by the bad 
world somehow, as he manages to think himself, into 
this mode of drowning' his misery ? And so of the 
traitor hatching his treason — whole states . of traitors 
hatching public treasons. Listen to their grievances — 
all in others, none in themselves. They have been in- 
jured, or insulted, or at any rate they were going to be. 
They are hot with the sense of injury not yet arrived, 
and must have their redress ! Farewell order ! welcome 
anarchy and blood! What an example of human 
passion, seeing worlds of wrong and enmity through 
the smoke of its own guilty jealousies, and the rampant 
fury of its own domineering habit. 



MAKES A BAD ELEMENT. 323 

Such, is human nature in its bad estate everywhere. 
No sin sees its own evil ; but the world is evil, every- 
thing is evil to it. Even truth is evil. "Why should 
the preacher come to us with so many unwelcome 
messages? as if it were not enough to be dragged 
through such a world as this, without being disturbed 
all the way by hard accusations ! It may be that we 
all sin ; but the circumstances we live in are all bad, 
and what do we do, but what the circumstances make 
us. Let the preacher charge upon the circumstances ! 
When they are not really angry at the truth, how many 
hearers dislike it. Little conception have they that the 
badness of the sermon is in themselves — "Say we not 
well, thou art a Samaritan and hast a devil ?" 

The subject I have now endeavored to illustrate is it- 
self a purely practical subject, and yet a great many 
practical things beside are opened by it, that do not 
seem, at first, to be included. And — 

1. It puts in a sad light of evidence what may well 
enough be called the weak point of Christianity ; viz., 
the fact that the souls to be saved will be always seeing 
themselves in it, and not seeing it as it is — turning it 
thus into an element as dry as their dryness, as bitter 
as their bitterness, as distasteful and oppressive as their 
own weak thraldom under sin. And so it turns out 
that Christ is dry, bitter, a hard yoke, any thing but 
what he is. 0, what power would there be in his love, 
and beauty, and divine greatness, if it were not for this. 
The grand difficulty in the way of a general conversion 



324 THE BAD MIND 

is, that the bad minds of the world so immediately con- 
vert the gospel into their own figure. Christ is to them 
a root out of a dry ground, having no form or comeli- 
ness, and no beauty to be desired — they turn away 
their faces, he is despised and not esteemed. And what 
does he propose, in their view, but to make them like 
himself, laying it upon them also to be roots out of a 
dry ground, even as they are to follow him in self- 
denial, self-sacrifice, and bearing the cross. "These 
you propose to us," they say, "for our allotment; and 
what shall we have after we have sacrificed ourselves in 
this manner, and given up even our souls to the perdi- 
tion of righteousness?" Ever}?- good and great thing 
offered is discolored from the bad color of their own 
bad state. And so the perpetual danger is, that what 
is given for their life, will be only a savor of death. 
Even the liberty of Christ appears to be only a way of 
thraldom — how can they imagine that the only real 
liberty of mind is the liberty of being in the truth, and 
the only possession of self the loss of self in God ? And 
so it comes to pass that our gospel — mighty, gracious, 
captivating enough, we might think, to make an easy 
conquest of the world — dwindles sadly and gets fatally 
stifled, because it can not be to men's eyes, what it 
really is in itself. It can not be the salvation it would, 
just because a salvation is wanted. 

It used to be frequently taught that men have no 
susceptibility that can be acted on by the gospel, save 
in a way of revulsion; that they must be only more 
exasperated by it, the more powerfully they are made 



MAKES A BAD ELEMENT. 325 

to feel it. Iso, the difficulty commonly is that they 
project their own bad state into it, so as to almost shut 
away the feeling of it. As far as they do feel it they 
are drawn by the beauty of it — sometimes powerfully 
drawn — but alas! how soon is it discolored by their 
own turbid state, and the power it was going to have 
subsides into weakness. 

2. TVe here perceive what is the true value of condition. 
I do not blame, of course, a proper attention to condition — 
it is even a dutj, But the notion that we are really to 
make our state as bad or good by the surroundings of life, 
and not by what is within us, not only violates the scrip- 
ture counsel, but, quite as palpably, the dictates of good 
sense — it is in fact the great folly of man. For a bad 
mind is of necessity its own bad state, and that state 
will be just as bad as the man is to himself, neither 
more nor less, come what may. A bad temper, a wrong 
love, an ungoverned pride, a restive ambition, a fretful, 
irritable, discontented habit within — why if a man had 
a den of vipers within, they would not make a state for 
him more absolutely than these. The surroundings of 
condition are to the man what the cloak is to the body, 
and the man who hid the fox under his cloak and 
hugged him close, till he gnawed into his vitals, might 
as well have been thinking to be happy because of his 
cloak, as any bad soul to be happy in sin because of 
condition. 0, that men could be so far disenchanted of 
this devil that possesses their understanding, as to see 
how certain it is that their condition, after all, is what 
they are themselves ; that it can be only bad as long as 

28 



326 THE BAD MIND 

they are bad, even if all the riches and power and 
splendor of the world were laid at their feet ; and can 
be only good, if good is the spirit and the inward ele- 
ment of their life. Toil on, O ye slaves, contrive, and 
strive, and thrust yourselves on to riches and power ; 
and then, at the end, discover that you have only gilded 
your misery, and built you a condition of more splendid 
sorrow; embittering bitterness by the mockery you 
offer to its comfort. Still you will see without, just 
what you are within, and the curse that is in you will 
curse every thing round you. The down you sleep on 
will be hard as your heart is, the silk that robes you 
will be a vesture of nettles to your ugly tempers, the 
coach in which you ride will answer to the jolting, 
night and day, of your bad conscience and your un- 
steady, gusty passions. If the bad state is in you, then 
every thing is bad, the internal disorder makes all 
things an element of disorder — even the sun in the sky 
will be your enemy. 

3. "We discover in this subject, what opinion to hold 
of the meaning and dignity of the state sometimes 
called misanthropy. Misanthropy is the state of mind 
that distastes men, the world, and life, and withdraws 
itself, more or less completely, into a feeling of self- 
justifying and self-isolating enmity. It is the senti- 
mental state of wickedness, or wicked feeling, and is 
more common to youth than to persons of a later age. 
For some reason they are not happy ; they begin to 
sympathize with themselves; they imagine how bad 
men are, and dislike them because they are selfish, or 



MAKES A BAD ELEMENT. 327 

proud, or unjust to merit ; they disapprove the scheme 
of life, it is such a miserable affair, an experience so 
dull and so generally contemptible; they read Lord 
Byron, steeping their souls in his poetic hate, and 
specially sympathizing with the truculent sentiment of 
his Cain, retiring Cain-like, as it were, into the felicity 
of a self-justifying malice, to look out upon the world 
and curse it. Now the bottom of their woe, if they 
could dispossess themselves of a little vanity, is that 
they are bad themselves. If they have such a hatred 
of men, are they not men themselves? and is it not 
probable enough that they have some as good title to 
distaste themselves ? Is there not another, in the next 
house, or chamber, who is hating men, disgusted with 
men, just as they are? This very foolish state of mind 
has one legitimate cure, and one that is true reason 
itself, viz., conviction of sin. As soon as they can pass 
on just one step farther, and see that what they so much 
distaste is themselves, and that all the badness of the bad 
world is in their own bad spirit, they are in a way to 
come at the true remedy. Accordingly it is in just 
this manner that the Holy Spirit often leads to Christ. 
The man begins to be sick and weary, sick in mind and 
so in body, for a full half of the sicknesses of the body 
are only distempers of the mind ; the world palls and 
grows distasteful; he sympathizes with himself, in a 
manner of inward complaint, draws off from that which 
does not satisfy, and loosens a kind of sentimental ani- 
mosity towards men and things. But the load grows 
heavier, chafing through the skin of his conceit into the 



328 THE BAD MIND 

nerves of conviction; misanthropy changes to self- 
disgust ; the secrets of the heart are opened ; the con- 
science breaks restraint ; and finally it stands revealed 
that sin is in the soul — a bondage, a disease, a shame, a 
curse. And now the question is who can heal the in- 
ward bitterness? Misanthropy, then, and world sick- 
ness are the bad state felt, convictign of sin is the bad 
state understood. That is a conceited misery, this the 
shame of a self-discovering weakness, guilt, and spiritual 
disorder. 

4. It is clear, in this subject, that we have little 
reason for troubling ourselves in questions that relate 
to a place of future misery. Enough to know that the 
mind is its own place, and will make a place of woe to 
itself, whithersoever it goes, in a life of sin and separa- 
tion from God. If the sceptic bolts upon us with the 
question, where is hell? or the question, whether we 
suppose that a God of infinite goodness has occupied 
himself in excavating and fashioning a local state for 
the torment of bad men ? it is enough to answer that 
a bad mind carries a hell with it, excavates its own 
place of torment, makes it deep and hot as with fire, 
and will assuredly be in that place, whatever else may 
be true. A good mind sits in heavenly places, because 
it is good. Go where it will it is with God, and God is 
templed eternally in it; God in his own everlasting 
beatitude and peace. Exactly what is true* of place 
beyond this, or of place as related to the condition of 
happy spirits, we do not know, but shall know here- 
after. Enough that the bad mind will at least be its 



MAKES A BAD ELEMENT. 329 

own bad state and element. It has the fire and brim- 
stone in itself, and the suffocating smoke, and the dark- 
ness, and the thirst, and the worm that never dies — 
testifying always, " I myself am Hell." It would turn 
the golden pavement into burning marl, and the hymns 
and hallelujahs of the blessed into shrieks of discord. 

Finally, it is evident in these illustrations, that the 
salvation of man is possible, only on the ground of a 
great and radical change in his inmost temper and 
spirit. What is wanted for the felicity of man is clearly 
not a change of place, or condition, but a change in that 
which makes both place and condition what they are. 
The bad spirit — this is the woe ; and nothing cures the 
woe, but that which changes the spirit of the mind. 
Marvel not at this ; you have only to take one glance 
at the world, turn one thought upon yourselves, to see 
it. Hence it is that Christ has come into the world as 
the physician of souls — it is that he may impart to them 
a new life and spirit from himself, and heal the disorders 
of their bad state, by uniting them to his own person. 
Think it not strange that he proposes thoughts to you 
so different from your own. O, ye weary ones, all ye 
desolate, all ye tossed with tempest and not comforted, 
all ye world-sick and heavy hearted, hear ye his call — 
" come unto me and I will give you rest." Why, my 
friends, what does it mean that we are such a malcontent, 
miserable race of beings ? Did not a good God make 
us and the world we live in? Why then are we so 
continually plagued and tormented in it? Why so 
hungry, so dry, so empty, so bitter, so like the troubled 

28* 



330 THE BAD MIND, ETC. 

sea and the mire and dirt it casts up in its storms ? Has 
God made some mistake in mixing the ingredients of 
our state ? No, it is we that make all this discord, we 
that mix in the acid ingredients of misery. The mo- 
ment you can enter back, out of sin, into this pure ele- 
ment of love in Christ, this world becomes a realm of 
peace, a paradise of beauty, a feast of satisfying good, 
an instrument of joyous harmony. Change the inward 
state and all is changed. Ye shall go out with joy, and 
be led forth with peace, the mountains and the hills 
shall break forth before you into singing, and all the 
trees of the hills shall clap their hands. 



XVI. 

PRESENT RELATIONS OF CHRIST WITH HIS FOLLOWERS. 



"Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away and 
come again unto you? — John xiv, 28. 

To go away and come again, or to go away in order 
to come again, would seem, taking the words at their 
face, to be a rather idle or unmeaning operation ; but if 
we can get far enough into the mind of Christ to appre- 
hend his real meaning, we shall find that he is propos- 
ing, in these words, a change of the greatest conse- 
quence — a change that is necessary to the working 
plan of his gospel and even to the complete value of his 
incarnation itself. In what sense then he is going, and 
in what sense he will come again, what change of rela- 
tionship he will inaugurate between himself and his 
followers, and so what hind of personal relation he under- 
takes to hold with them now, is the subject to which I call 
your attention this morning, as one of intense practical 
interest, and even of the tenderest personal concern. 

Whoever has reflected much upon the subject of the 
incarnation has discovered that its value depends on 
brevity of time, and that no such condition could be 
permanent, without becoming a limitation upon itself 



332 , PRESENT RELATIONS OF CHRIST 

and a real hindrance to its own objects. Kemaining 
permanently on earth in the body, Christ, plainly 
enough, could never have extended his rule into parts 
remote, or to persons debarred by distance from the 
external modes of access and acquaintance. The incar- 
nation, therefore, requires shortly to be inverted. 
After the immense new revelation, or new salvation, of 
God has been accomplished, by such a manifested pres- 
ence and divine life in the flesh, there needs, just as 
truly, to be a withdrawment from the eyes ; otherwise 
Christ, remaining in the world and permanently fixed 
in it, could only gather a small circle about him, and 
become the center of an outward Lama worship, as re- 
stricted as the mere sight, or appearing, of the divine 
man-idol requires it to be. 

Therefore he says — " it is expedient for you that I go 
away," adding the promise — "I will come to you." 
He means, by this, that the time has now arrived, when 
there must be a change of administration; when he 
must needs be taken away from the eyes, and begin to 
be set in a new spiritual relation, which permits a uni- 
versal access of men to him, and a universal presence 
of ]jim with them — so a grand, world-wide kingdom. 
Saying nothing of the particular objects to be gained by 
his death, he could not stay here and carry on his 
work ; he had as many friends now as he could speak 
with, or allow to speak with him ; and if he should re- 
main, holding fixed locality, as of a body in space, he 
could be the head. only of a coterie, never of a kingdom. 
What is wanted now is an unlocalized, invisible, spirit- 



WITH HIS FOLLOWERS. 333 

ually present, everywhere present, Saviour; such as all 
may know and receive, being consciously known and 
received by him. 

And this will be his coming again, or his second 
coming — such a kind of coming as shows him bearing 
rule in Providence, and riding in the clouds of heaven — 
rolling on the changes, unfolding the destinies of time, 
and preparing his universal kingdom. The world, he 
says, seeth me no more, but ye see me; and having 
your spiritual eye open for this, it will be as if you saw 
me coming triumphantly in the clouds. This image is 
a well-known Eastern figure of princely pomp and 
majesty ; they say of every great monarch, taking as- 
cendancy, that he rides on the clouds of heaven. So, 
as Christ comes on, bearing sway and ruling invisible, 
it will be as if he were seen coming on overhead, in the 
clouds. And especially will this be felt when Jerusa- 
lem the Holy City is blotted out, as it were by God's 
hand of judgment upon it, in the conquest by Titus. 
By that sign goes out the old, exclusive, Jew-state ; and 
there comes in after it, now to have its place, the Chris- 
tian, catholic, free state, that is to be gathered under 
the universal, spiritual headship of Christ. That gath- 
ering in, as in power, is to be his coming, or coming 
again — no bodily appearing, no visible pomp, no mani- 
festation locally as in space; for the very thing that 
made it expedient for him to go away from the senses, 
forbids any such outward manifestation. And therefore 
he adds a caution, telling his disciples expressly, that 
his coming thus again is not to be a coming with 



334 PRESENT RELATIONS OF CHRIST 

observation. There shall be no calling "Lo, here is 
Christ, or lo, there," "behold he is in the desert," "behold 
he is in the secret chambers." The power in which he 
comes will be morally diffusive and secretly piercing — 
"as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth 
even unto the west, so also shall the coming of the Son 
of Man be." 

In all which Christ, you will perceive, is proposing 
to do exactly nothing which many of his disciples, 
specially taken by the faith of his second coming, so 
fervently preach and so earnestly magnify. They 
believe that he is to come in a body, and be visible as 
in body. He will of course be here or there in space, 
a locally present being, at some particular geographic 
point — Jerusalem, or London, or Eome, or going about 
in all places by turns. Hearing now that he is here, 
or there, we shall think no more of seeing him by faith, 
and begin to think of seeing him with our eyes. Every 
ship that sails will be crowded with eager multitudes 
pressing on to see the visible Christ. Thronging in 
thus, month by month, a vast seething crowd of pil- 
grims, curious and devout, poor and rich, houseless all 
and hungry, trampling each other, many of them sick, 
not one of them in the enjoyment truly of God's peace, 
not one of a thousand getting near enough to see him, 
still fewer to hear him speak — how long will it take 
under such kind of experience to learn what Christ in- 
tended and the solid truth of it, when he said — "it is 
expedient for you that I go away." Nothing could be 
more inexpedient, or a profouncler affliction, than a 



WITH HIS FOLLOWERS. 335 

locally descended, permanently visible, Saviour. How 
much better a Saviour present everywhere, and at all 
times; a Saviour who can say, "Lo, I am with you al- 
ways," and make the promise good; one whom the 
heart can know, as being at rest in him, and behold, as 
by faith ; wheeling his chariot on through all the tu-i 
mults and overturnings of time, till his universal king- 
dom is complete. 

I am well aware that our brethren, who look for 
Christ's visible coming, will not allow the inconven- 
iences, or almost absurdities, I have here sketched, to 
be any proper results of their doctrine. " We believe," 
they will say, "that he will come in a spiritual body, 
such as he had after his resurrection, not in a coarse, 
material body. It will be such a body that he can be 
here, or there, at any given moment, hampered by no 
conditions of space; even as he came into the room 
where his disciples were gathered, when the doors were 
shut." But they only impose upon themselves by such 
a conception. If their spiritual body is to be visible, it 
must be as in space and outward appearing ; for that is 
the condition of all visibility. And then we have a 
flitting Saviour, breaking out here or there, at what 
time, or on what occasion, no mortal can guess. And 
the result will be that they are in a worse torment than 
they would be, if he were established in some known 
locality. Going after their eyes, they are taken off 
from all faith, and where their eyes shall find him they 
know not. 

Pardon me then if I suggest the suspicion that they 



336 PRESENT RELATIONS OF CHRIST 

are more carnal in their expectation than they know. 
If it is so much better to have a visible Saviour, are 
they not more weary of faith than they should be, and 
secretly longing, catching at straws of prophecy, to get 
away from it? There is nothing, I must frankly say, 
that would be so nearly a dead loss of Christ to any 
disciple who knows him in the dear companionship of 
faith, as to have him come in visible show ; either set- 
ting up his reign at some geographic point, or reigning 
aerially, in some flitting and cursitating manner which 
can not be traced. How beautifully accessible is he 
now everywhere, present to every heart that loves him ; 
consciously dear, as friend, consoler, guide, and stay, in 
all conditions ; close at hand in every sinking ship in the 
uttermost parts of the sea ; the sweet joy of dungeons 
under ground, where there is no light to see him in a 
body ; immediately and ail-diffusively present, to com- 
fort every sorrow, support every persecution, and 
even to turn away the tempting thought before it 
comes. A Saviour in the body and before the eyes 
can serve no such offices. ISTone can find him, but 
them that come in his way, or chance to spy him with 
their eyes. 

We have no want then of a locally related, that is of 
a bodily resident Saviour; we perceive, without diffi- 
culty, the expediency of which Christ speaks, that he 
should go away and not continue the incarnate, or visi- 
ble state, longer than to serve the particular objects for 
which he assumed that state. But he gives us to un- 
derstand, that he is not going to be taken utterly away 



WITH HIS FOLLOWERS. 337 

in the proposed removal, but rather to be as much 
closer to his disciples as he can be, when all conditions 
of time and space are cast off. And accordingly the 
question rises at this point, how is Christ related now to 
the knowledge and friendship of his people? "Ye 
have heard how I said unto you I go away and come 
again unto you." And again — "I will not leave you 
comfortless, I will come to you." And again — "but 
ye see me." And again — " Lo, I am with you always." 
He evidently means to put himself thus in a practically 
close and dear relation with his people — what is that 
relation ? how set open ? how maintained ? 

Obviously what we want -ourselves, is to be somehow 
with him, and to know that he is with us. We want a 
social, consciously open state with him, as real as if he 
were with us bodily, and as diffusive as if he were 
everywhere ; thus to have a personal enjoyment of him, 
and rest in the felt sympathies of his personal compan- 
ionship. This, too, exactly is what he means to allow 
us ; not in the external way, but in a way more imme- 
diate, and blessed, and evident, and as much more ben- 
eficial. If we had him with us in the external way, as 
his own disciples had, when they journeyed, and talked, 
and eat, and slept, in his company, we should be living 
altogether in our eyes, and not in any way of mental 
realization. And, as a result, we should not be raised 
and exalted in spiritual force, or character, as we spe- 
cially need to be. What we want, therefore, is to have 
a knowledge of him, and presence and society with him, 
that we can carry with us, and have as the secret joy, 

29 



338 PRESENT RELATIONS OF CHRIST 

and strength, and conscious blessing of our inmost life 
itself; that we may see him, when we are blind and can 
see nothing with our eyes ; that we may hear him speak, 
when we are deaf and can hear nothing with our ears ; 
that we may walk with him, when we can not walk at 
all ; sit in heavenly places with him, when we can not 
sit at all ; rise with him when he rises, reign with him 
when he reigns; never away from him, even when 
beyond the sea, or passing through the valley of the 
shadow of death. 

Now it is just this relation that he undertakes to fill, 
when he goes away. Being himself a Comforter, [Par- 
aclete,] for this is the word translated Advocate, he 
promises "another Comforter;" that is, in some proper 
sense, another self. Indeed, he really calls the Com- 
forter promised, another self; for he says expressly, in 
this very connection — "Even the Spirit of truth, whom 
the world can not receive because it seeth him not; 
neither knoweth him, but ye know him ; for he dwell- 
eth with you and shall be in } r ou;" striking directly 
into the first person, to say the same thing over again, 
as relating to himself — " Yet a little while and the world 
seeth me no more, but ye see me ; because I live, ye 
shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am 
in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you." And then, 
to be still more explicit, he gives the promise, that who- 
soever of his followers follows faithfully, keeping his 
commandments, shall have the immediate manifestation 
always of his presence — "I will manifest myself unto 
him," — "If a man love me he will keep my words, and 



WITH HIS FOLLOWERS. 339 

my Father "will love him, and we will come unto him 
and make our abode with hinv' 

The great change of administration thus to be intro- 
duced, by the going away and coming again, includes 
several points that require to be distinctly noted. 

1. That Christ now institutes such a relationship be- 
tween him and his followers, that thev can know him 
when the world can not. Before this, the world had 
known him just as his disciples had, seeing him with 
their eyes, hearing his doctrine, observing his miracles, 
but now he is to be withdrawn, so that only they shall 
see him — " the world seeth him not." As being rational 
persons, they may recollect him, they may read other 
men's recollections of him, but his presence they will 
not discern, he is not manifest unto them, but only to 
his followers. He that loveth. knoweth God, and he 
only. 

2. It is a point included that the new presence, or 
social relationship, is to be effected and maintained by 
the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. And he it is that 
Christ, in the promise, calls so freely himself. The New 
Testament writings are not delicate in maintaining any 
particular formula, or scheme of personality, as regards 
the distributions of Trinity. They call the Spirit ;; the 
Spirit of Christ." They say, " God hath sent the Spirit 
of his Son into your hearts. ,; They speak of "the sup- 
ply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.'' They speak also of 
"the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus." They 
say, "the Lord [Christ] is that Spirit/' Christ also is 



340 PRESENT RELATIONS OF CHRIST 

shown, more than once, fulfilling the official functions 
of the Spirit ; as in Paul's conversion, where the invisi- 
ble Christ, that is the Spirit, says " I am Jesus of Naza- 
reth whom thou persecutest; or again, when Paul him- 
self describes his conversion by saying, " when it pleased 
God to reveal his Son in me." No theologic scruples 
are felt in such free modes of expression, and indeed 
there never should be ; for to every one but the strict 
tritheist, Christ must, in some sense, be the Spirit, and 
the Spirit, Christ. And when Christ calls the Comforter 
he promises, himself, he gives precisely the best and 
truest representation of the Spirit, in his new office, 
possible to be given. It is to be as if the disincarnated 
soul, or person of Christ, were now to go away and 
return as a universal Spirit invisible; in that form "to 
abide forever." And the beauty of the conception is, 
that the Spirit is to be no mere impersonal effluence, or 
influence, but to be with us in the very feeling and 
charity of Jesus. All the fullness of Christ is in him ; 
the gentleness, the patience, the tenderness, the self- 
sacrifice ; all that makes Jesus himself such a power of 
personal mastery in us. He is to be with us in Christ's 
name as a being with a heart, nay, to be the heart itself 
that was beating in the Son of Mary. All the charities, 
and even the blessed humanities of Jesus are to be in 
him, and, in fact, to be ministered socially, and socially 
manifested by him ; even as Christ expressly declared — 
"He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of man and 
show it unto you." This inward showing is, in fact, 
the virtuality of Christ. He will be to the soul all that 



WITH HIS FOLLOWERS. 341 

Christ himself would wish to be ; for he loves the world 
with Christ's own love. He will be as forgiving as 
Christ in his passion, as tenderly burdened as Christ in 
his agony, as really present to physical suffering, as 
truly a Comforter to all the shapes of human sorrow. 
All which Christ outwardly expressed, he will inwardly 
show. 

3. In this coming again of Christ by the Spirit, there 
is included also the fact that he will be known by the 
disciple, not only socially, but as the Christ, in such a 
way as to put us in a personal relationship with him, 
even as his own disciples were in their outward* society 
with him. " Ye shall know that I am in the Father, and 
ye in me, and I in you." " But ye know him." " But 
ye see me." Many persons appear to suppose that the 
Holy Spirit works in a manner back of all consciousness, 
and that there is even a kind of extravagance in the disci- 
ple who presumes to know him. And so it really is, if 
the conception is that he knows him by. sensation, or by 
inward phantasy. But what means the apostle when 
he says — "the Spirit itself beareth witness with our 
Spirit that we are the children of Cod"? That bearing 
witness with imports some kind of inward society, or 
interchange, in which a divine testimony flows into 
human impression, or conviction, else it imports nothing. 
The real Christian fact in regard to this very important 
subject appears to be, that the Holy Spirit, or Spirit of 
Christ, though not felt by sensation, or beheld by men- 
tal vision, is yet revealed, back of all perception, in the 
consciousness. We are made originally to be conscious 

29* 



342 PRESENT RELATIONS OF CHRIST 

of God, just as we are of ourselves, and know him by 
that immediate light. This is our normal state and it 
is now so far restored. Our finite being was to be com- 
plete in the infinite, and apart from that, could only be 
a poor dead limb, or broken fragment, worthless to it- 
self. And this accordingly is the wonder of a true re- 
ligious experience begun, that the soul, awakened to the 
consciousness of God, not knowing how, has a certain 
mysterious feeling of otherness imparted, which is some- 
how a new element to it — a pure, inwardly glorious, 
free element. By and by it gets acquainted with the 
new arid glorious incoming, and dares to say, it is 
Christ, it is God. A whole side of the nature turning 
Godward thus, and before closed, is now open, and the 
man is even more impressively conscious at times of the 
divine movement in his feeling, than of his own. And 
this fulfills the promise — "I will manifest myself unto 
him." A promise which Paul bravely answers, when 
he says, out of his own conscious experience — " Christ 
liveth in me," — " who loved me and gave himself for 
me." 

Here then is the relationship we seek — Christ is so 
related now, to the soul of them that receive him, that 
he is present with them in all places, at all times, bear- 
ing witness with their spirit, in guidance and holy 
society ; a friend, a consoler, a glorious illuminator, all 
that he would or could be, if we had him each to him- 
self in outward company. Yes, and he is more than 
this ; for if we simply had him in such outward com- 
pany, the contrast perceived would be even mortifying 



WITH HIS FOLLOWERS. 343 

and oppressive ; but now, as be conies up from within, 
through our personal consciousness itself, we are raised 
in dignity, and have him as the sense of a new and 
nobler self unfolded in us. 0, what a footing is this for 
a mortal creature to occupy, an open relationship with 
Christ and Grod, in which it shall receive just all which 
it wants, being consciously girded with strength for 
whatever it has to do, patience for suffering, wisdom 
for guidance. His very nature is penetrated by a 
higher nature, and, being spirit to Spirit, he moves in 
the liberty of that superior impulse and advisement. 
His relationship to Christ is that of the branch to the 
vine, and the presence that he has with Christ is imme- 
diate, vital, and if he will suffer it, perpetual. Its 
whole gospel in one view it has in the promise — " Lo, I 
am with you always, even to the end of the world." 

But there is a different conception of this whole 
matter, which I must briefly notice. Many persons ap- 
pear to assume, that we have, and can have, no relations 
to Christ, more immediate than those which we have 
through language and the understanding. The Spirit, 
they say, works by truth, and only as the truth gets 
power in our thoughts and choices. Their conception 
is that we have nothing to do with God, except as we 
get hold of notions, or notional truths, concerning him — 
reported facts, for example, and teachings, and doctrinal 
deductions. Undoubtedly we are to have this notional 
furniture in the understanding, but it is never to be a 
fence between us and Grod, requiring us to know him 
only at second hand, as we know China by the report 



344 PRESENT RELATIONS OF CHRIST 

of the geographers. We are still to know God, or 
Christ, by our immediate experience ; nay, to know him 
as we know ourselves, by consciousness. It is useful 
for us to know ourselves scientifically, intellectually, re- 
flectively ; but this kind of artificial self-knowledge is 
not enough. Some of us, in that way, would scarcely 
know ourselves at all, and none of us more than par- 
tially, intermittently, and in spots. We want to know 
ourselves all the while, and without study, so as to be 
all the while possessing and going along with ourselves, 
and therefore we are gifted with an immediate con- 
sciousness of ourselves. But we want, just as much, to 
know God by this immediate and perpetual knowledge ; 
for apart from God we are nothing, we do not even half 
exist. Our finite existence becomes complete existence, 
only as we are complete in Him, and this we can not 
be, save as he is manifested, or participated, by our 
consciousness. Thus we might have our advantage in 
a notional, or scientific conception of the atmosphere, 
but if we could breathe only by such scientific self- 
regulation, many of us would stop breathing entirely, 
and all of us would be gasping for air a great part of the 
time ; what we want is a continual fanning of the breath 
that shall keep the air at work, feeding our life all the 
time, without intermission, and without any kind of 
notional self-regulation. So, too, we want a perpetual 
inbreathing of God, a witnessing of the divine Spirit 
with our spirit, else our very nature is abortive and 
worthless. It is not enough that we have notions, or 
doctrines, of God, which we may use, or apply, to obtain 



WITH HIS FOLLOWERS. 345 

flavors of good effect through, such media — we want the 
immediate manifestation of God himself. And then, lest 
we should sink away into the abysses and trances of 
contemplation, with Plotinus and others who struggle 
out vaguely into and after the infinite, we have the in- 
finite humanly personated in Christ ; so that, instead of 
wandering off into any abysses .at all, we simply let the 
Son of Man be God in our feeling, and fashion us in the 
molds of his own humanly divine excellence. Christ 
we say liveth in us ; and therefore by the faith of the 
Son of Grod, we live. 

But is not this a kind of mysticism, some will ask, 
better therefore to be avoided than received ? I hardly 
know what is definitely meant by the question ; unless 
perhaps it be that a word is wanted that will serve the 
uses of a stigma. A great many will begin to suspect 
some kind of mysticism, just because they are mystified, 
or misted, and see things only in a fog of obscurity. 
But if this be mysticism, nothing is plainer than that 
Christ is the original teacher of it, and his two disciples, 
John and Paul, specially abundant teachers of it after 
him. Every man is a mystic in the same way, who 
believes that Christ is the Life — in such a sense the life 
that he truly liveth in his followers, and giveth them to 
live by him. God as the Life, the all-quickener, the 
all-mover and sustainer, the inward glory and bliss of 
souls — this may be set down as a thing too high to be 
any but a mystical notion. And yet all highest things 
are apt to be most rational, and, at bottom, most credible. 
What can be more rational, in fact, than to think that 



346 PRESENT RELATIONS OF CHRIST 

Grod will give us most certainly what is most wanted — 
water, and light, and air, and yet more freely, Himself? 
He will not put us off to know only things about him, 
truths, notions, items of fact, but will give us to know 
Himself. And since all souls are dark, living only to 
grope, without Him — poor, blind pilgrims, straying on 
the shores of eternity — what will he do, what, in all true 
reason, must he do, but make himself the true sunrising 
to them, and the conscious revelation of their inward day. 
Our answer then to the question what are Christ's 
present relations to his followers ? is that he is present 
to them as he is not, and can not be to the world ; pres- 
ent as an all-permeating Spirit; present as the all- 
quickening Life ; consciously, socially present ; so that 
no explorations of science, or debates of reason are 
wanted to find him, no going over the sea to bring him 
back, or up into heaven to bring him down ; because 
he is already present, always present, in the mouth and 
in the heart. In this manner he will be revealed in all 
men, waits to be revealed in all, if only they will suffer 
it. The word for every loving, trusting heart is, I will 
come unto it, I will be manifest in it. Lo, I will be 
with it always. 

But the answer at which we thus arrive is a purely 
spiritual answer, you perceive, one that is real and true 
only as it is opened to faith, and experimentally proved. 
But all such spiritualities waver and flicker ; we are too 
much in the senses to hold them constantly and evenly 
enough to rest in them. Therefore to keep us in the 



WITH HIS FOLLOWERS. 347 

range of this relationship, God has contrived to fasten 
us in the sense of it, and make it good, by two fixed, 
partly outward, institutes, that are to stand as forts, or 
fortresses, in the foreground of it ; viz., by the church 
and by the sacraments. 

"Behold the kingdom of God is within you," says 
the Saviour, meaning that he will be there, and there 
will have his reign. But he also lays the foundations 
of a great, perpetual, visible institute, that he names the 
church, calling it to be the light of the world, even as 
he, in the body, was the light of the world himself, and 
because he is now, in the Spirit, to be entered into and 
fill the body of the church with light. His apostle 
calls it too " the pillar and ground of the truth," because 
it is to be that corporate body that never dies, receiving 
the written word as a deposit and trust for all ages to 
come, and becoming itself a living epistle, answering 
faithfully to it, and shedding, from its own luminous 
property, a perpetual light of interpretation upon it. 
Of this body, called the church, he is to be the Head 
himself, and all the members joined together in him, 
are to be so related to Him as to make a virtually real, 
and perpetually diffusive, incarnation of him in the 
world. While, therefore, it was expedient for him to go 
away as the Son of Man, or of Mary, it was yet to be 
found, as he comes again by revelation to the conscious- 
ness of his disciples, that he is again taking body, in 
fact, for all time, in them ; so to be manifested organi- 
cally, and, as it were, instituted in their undying and 
corporate membership — "Head, over all things to the 



348 PRESENT RELATIONS OF CHRIST 

church which, is his body, the fullness of him that filleth 
all in all." The members are to know him personally, 
each in his own immediate life, and then they are to 
know him again even the more firmly, that they are 
consciously instituted and framed into body by his life. 
It is to be as if their divine consciousness itself were 
certified, and sealed, and made visible, by its own or- 
ganizing power — that power which ages and times can 
not weaken, which outlives the kingdoms and their 
persecutions, and defies the gates of hell. "From 
whence the whole body, fitly joined together and com- 
pacted by that which every joint supplieth, according 
to the effectual working in the measure of every part, 
maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself 
in love." What solidity is there now in such a relation 
to Christ ! Spiritual as the relation is, it is yet even more 
intellectually fixed, and carries better evidence, than 
Christ in the body was ever able to give his followers. 

But the spiritualities of the relation Christ maintains 
with his disciples were to be settled and fortified by 
still another institute ; I mean the sacraments, and es- 
pecially the sacrament of the Holy Supper. The very 
object of the supper appears to be the settlement, and 
practical, or experimental, certification of that revelation 
to consciousness, of which we have been speaking. 
'' This is my body, take and eat." " This is my blood, 
drink ye all of it." And this, to establish, as by insti- 
tute, the fact that Christ here present, is to be commu- 
nicated and received, as by nutrition, or as life. And 
this is what is meant by discerning his body, and the 



WITH HIS FOLLOWERS. 349 

showing forth of his death ; for there is to be an accept- 
ing, in the partaker, of his here represented embodiment, 
and a confession of trust in his death, to which he will, 
by these instituted symbols and pledges, be inwardly 
discovered, as certainly and as often as the rite is duly 
observed. When, therefore, he says, " this do in remem- 
brance of me," we are not to take his words in the 
lightest, shallowest, possible meaning, as if he were only 
giving us a mnemonic to refresh our memories, but in 
the deepest and most sacredly inward sense ; viz., that 
he is giving it to us here, to receive the dearest hospi- 
tality, the communion of his own divine Life. All that 
famous discourse of his about the bread and the blood, 
in the 6th chapter of John, is but the fit opening of his 
meaning. " I am the bread of life — the living bread 
that came down from heaven — if any man eat of this 
bread he shall live forever. My flesh is meat indeed, and 
my blood is drink indeed. Except ye eat the flesh of the 
Son of Man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." 
And this exactly is the great institute of the supper. 
Christ engages to be present in it, by a most real pres- 
ence, without a miracle of transubstantiation ; so that 
when we come to offer him up ourselves, and open our 
inmost receptivities to the appropriation of his presence, 
it is no vague, volunteer, possibly presumptuous, thing 
that we do, as if venturing on some almost aerial flight, 
in the way of coming unto God, but we have the grace 
by institution, firmly pledged, and given, as it were, by 
routine. Here is Christ to be communicated. Here 
are we to commune. There is no miracle, but what is 

30 



350 PEESENT 

a great deal better, viz., life ; community of life with 
Christ and God. What we get in the conscious reve- 
lation of his Spirit, we here receive by an outward and 
perpetually instituted dispensation. And we have this 
communion also with each other as with Christ ; because 
he is the common life, which is endeavoring always a 
common growth in the members. 

0, that we might receive this supper to-day, my 
brethren, according to its true meaning, and eat and 
drink worthily. Take it as no mere commemorative 
ceremony over Christ dead, but as the appointed vehicle 
of Christ living, and in you to live. Come not here to 
be sad and sit mourning for your Master's body, like 
the women weeping for Tammuz. Consider, above all, 
this, that Christ, once dead, is here alive, that he may 
here dispense himself to you. Blessed is the heart that 
shall be fully opened to him. Be that true, as it may 
be, of you all ; that you may go forth loving one another 
as you. love your Master, and shining without, by the 
light he gives you within. Neither forget how that 
open, dear, relation of spirit with him, of which we have 
been speaking, is here sanctioned publicly for you, and 
sanctified before you, even as by an institute of God. 
As he has gone away, so believe, henceforth and always, 
that he has come again. Count this coming in the 
Spirit to be with you, dearer than even outward society 
with him would be, such as his disciples had at the first ; 
and expect to be always with him in this manner, in the 
closest, most immediate, knowledge; even as he said 
himself— -but ye see me. 



XVII. 

THE WRATH OF THE LAMB. 



"And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us and 
hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and 
from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of his 
wrath is come ; and who shall he able to stand f n — Kev. vi, 
16-17. 

The lamb is the most simply innocent of all animals. 
Historically also it had become a name for sacrifice. 
For this twofold reason, Christ is set forth as the Lamb. 
Under this name, as fulfilling the conception of gentle- 
ness and sacrifice in God, we give him ready welcome. 
"We magnify him as the Lamb, and expect to magnify 
him even eternally, in ascriptions offered to that dear 
name. Even such as are most remote from the life of 
religion are commonly satisfied with conceptions of God 
under this gentle, patient figure ; making up, not seldom, 
schemes of divine character and order, that have only 
the innocuous way of the lamb — -just as thousands of 
the devotees of liberty will magnify liberty, as being 
the whole substance of government ; counting it really 
the same thing as a release from being governed. Yet 
liberty is but justice secured; and, in just the same 
manner, the Lamb is but the complemental gentleness 
of God's judicial vigor. 



352 THE WRATH OF THE LAMB. 

All which appears to be represented by a most para- 
doxical, jarring, combination of words, that predicates 
wrath of the very lambhood of Christ. To speak 
simply of the wrath of God is bad enough to some ; it is 
even a real offense. They recoil from such expressions 
as unworthy, and as indicating, either a degree of irreve- 
rence in those who use them, or else low ideas of God, 
such as may not be revolted by the ascription of a tem- 
per so unregulated and so essentially coarse. It is 
commonly no sufficient answer to such, that the scrip- 
tures of God speak of his wrath in this way without 
compunction ; for the scriptures, they will suspect, are 
not as far refined themselves, in the moral tastes and 
proprieties, as they might be. But here we have " the 
wrath of the Lamb ;"— which not only violates a first 
principle of rhetoric, forbidding the conjunction of sym- 
bols that have no agreement of kind or quality, but also 
shocks our cherished conceptions of Christ, as the suf- 
fering victim, or the all-merciful and beneficent friend, 
in either way, the Saviour of sinners. Who will ever 
speak of a lamb's wrath? Who, much more, of the 
wrath of the Lamb of God ? And yet the scripture 
does it without any sense of impropriety, or moral in- 
congruity — what shall we make of such a fact ? 

Simply this, I answer, that while our particular age 
is at the point of apogee from all the more robust and 
vigorous conceptions of God in his relation to evil ; 
while it makes nothing of God as a person or govern- 
ing will ; less, if possible, of sin as a wrong-doing by 
subject wills ; we are still to believe in Christianity, and 



THE WRATH OF THE LAMB. 353 

not in the new religion of nature ; in Christ, and not in 
the literary gentlemen. It does not, in my view, re- 
quire a very great degree of nerve to do this. Only we 
must have the right to believe in the real Christ, and 
not that theologic Christ which has so long been praised, 
as it were into weakness, by the showing that separates 
him from all God's decisive energies and fires of com- 
bustion, and puts him over against them, to be only a 
pacifier of them by his suffering goodness. Our Christ 
must be the real king — Messiah — and no mere victim ; 
he must govern, have his indignations, take the regal 
way in his salvation. His goodness must have fire and 
fibre enough to make it divine. 

We take the principle, in brief, without scruple, that 
if we can settle what is to he understood by the wrath of 
God, we shall not only find the wrath in God, but as much 
more intensely revealed, in the incarnate life and ministry 
of Christ, as the love is, or the patience, or any other char- 
acter of God. Since he is the Lamb, in other words, the 
most emphatic and appalling of all epithets will have 
its place, viz., — the wrath of the Lamb. 

We want very much, in English, a word that we 
have not, to express more definitely the true force of 
the original scripture word [°pyri] occurring in this rela- 
tion. We have a considerable family of words that we 
can employ for this purpose ; such as wrath, anger, in- 
dignation, fury, vengeance, judgment, justice, and the like, 
but they are all more or less defective. Indignation is 
the most unexceptionable, but it is too prosy and 

30* 



354 THE WEATH OF THE LAMB. 

weak to carry such a meaning with due effect. Wrath 
is the term most commonly used in our translation, and 
it is really the best, if only we can hold it closely 
enough to the idea of a moral, in distinction from a 
merely animal passion ; else, failing in this, it will con- 
nect associations of unregulated temper that are painful, 
and as far as possible from being sacred. It requires in 
this view, like the safety-lamps of the miners, a gauze 
of definition round it, to save it from blazing into an 
explosion too fierce to serve the purposes of light. 

We understand then by wrath, as applied to God 
and to Christ, a certain principled heat of resentment 
towards evil doing and evil doers, such as arms the 
good to inflictions of pain, or just retribution, upon 
them. It is not the heat of revenge, girding up itself 
in fiery passion, to repay the personal injuries it has 
suffered ; but it is that holy heat which kindles about 
order, and law, and truth, and right; going in, as it 
were, spontaneously, to redress their wrongs and chas- 
tise the injuries they have suffered. It is that, in every 
moral nature, which prepares it to be an essentially 
beneficent avenger, a holy knight-errant champion for 
the right, and true, and good. It can be let in to nerve 
a resentment, or to bitter a grudge, and commonly is, in 
souls given up to resentments and grudges ; but it was 
ordained specially to be such an equipment of moral 
natures, that goodness would be an armed state, capable 
not only of beneficence, but of inflicting pain where 
pain is wanted, in the fit vindication of order and right. 

How it works, we may see, almost every hour, in . 



THE WRATH OF THE LAMB. 355 

some example greater, or less, in its magnitude. Only 
to see a large boy in the street harassing and persecuting 
a small one, stirs the natural wrath-principle in us, in 
such a manner that, if we do not actually lay hands upon 
him ourselves, we could easily be much satisfied if a 
considerable chastisement should overtake him. So, if 
an officer of the law arrests a woman in the street, hal- 
ing her away to justice, you will see a multitude, ex- 
cited by her outcries, rushing quickly together, wanting 
to know what a strong man can be doing in that fashion 
with a woman, and about half ready to interfere, before 
they have learned" whether it is a case of oppression or 
not. "We had an illustration, a few days ago, of this 
wrath-principle in human bosoms, on a much grander 
scale — the whole New England people, or rather the 
whole nation itself, waiting, as it were, by the gallows 
of a Webster, and giving their spontaneous sanction to 
his death, by their emphatic and hearty Amen. Under 
the solemn wrath-principle of which I am here speak- 
ing, every healthy and robust soul took the penalty with 
appetite, and with a certain good revenge, stood stiff 
and firm by the impartial and righteous sentence of the 
law. So if this great and awful rebellion against which 
we are now in arms, should finally collapse and go 
down, and the friends of Union, so long and bit- 
terly oppressed by their tyrants, should rise upon them 
and drag them to summary justice, compelling them to 
expiate, by their death, the most terrible and bloodiest, 
and really most impious, crime ever committed on earth, 
save the crucifixion of Jesus itself, who of us would 



356 THE WRATH OF THE LAMB. 

blame, or in the least regret, the judicial severity of the 
retribution? Why, the unspeakable desolations, the 
latitudes and longitudes of the woe, would even take on 
a smile, in our thought, and we should find ourselves 
thanking God, even before we knew it, that he has put 
a wrath-principle in human bosoms for the avenging of 
so great a crime. Nay, we should be quite willing to 
imagine this wrath-principle residing also in the very 
ground itself, and crying unto God, from every blood- 
sodden field and region, even as the blood of Abel did, 
in Cain's one, solitary, merely initial, comparatively in- 
significant, murder. 

In all these and similar examples that could be cited 
without number, there is, you perceive, a function of 
wrath, or an instinctively vindicatory function, that 
pertains to all moral natures, and arms them to be the 
supporters of justice and the avengers of wrong. They 
have this high moral instinct, or function, not as a vice 
to be extirpated or stifled, but as an integral part of 
their inmost original nature. It is constituent, consub- 
stantial, and is to be eternal. 

Having distinguished, in this manner, what is to be 
understood by wrath, as predicated, whether of God or 
of the Lamb, we are ready to proceed with the main 
subject of inquiry. Is it then a fact that Christ, as the 
incarnate Word of God, embodies and reveals the wrath- 
principle of God, even as he does the patience or love- 
principle, and as much more intensely ? On this point 
we have many distinct evidences. And — 



THE WEATH OF THE LAMB. 357 

1. It is very obvious, at the outset, that Christ can 
not be a true manifestation of God, when he comes in 
half the character of God, to act upon, or qualify, or 
pacify, the other half. He must be God manifest in the 
flesh, and not one side of God. If only God's affec- 
tional nature is represented in him, then he is but a 
half manifestation. And if we assign him, in that 
character, a special value, then we say, by implication, 
what amounts to the worst irreverence, that God is a 
being to be most desired when he is only half presented, 
and when his other half is either kept back, or somehow 
smoothed to a condition of silence. I take issue with 
all such conceptions of Christ. He is God manifested 
'truly, God as he is, God in all his attributes combined, 
else he is nothing, or at least no fair exhibition. If the 
purposes of God, the justice of God, the indignations 
of God, are not in Him ; if any thing is shut away, or 
let down, or covered over, then he is not in God's pro- 
portions, and does not incarnate his character. 

2. It will be noted that Christ can be the manifested 
wrath of God, without being any the less tender in his 
feeling, or gentle in his patience. If God may fitly 
comprehend these opposite poles of character, so also 
may Christ ; and if the fires of God's retributive indig- 
nations are no contradiction to the fact that he is love, 
no more is there any such contradiction to be appre- 
hended, when these indignations are displayed in Christ. 
Indeed we have occasions in the history of Jesus, when 
he actually displays the judicial and the tender, most 
affectingly, together and in the very same scene. "And 



358 THE WRATH OF THE LAMB. 

when he had looked about on them with anger," says 
Mark, "being grieved for the hardness of their hearts." 
Here we have the wrath, [o£y*i] in a connection of feel- 
ing so tender and loving, that he is even grieved. His 
indignations have quickened his more tender sensibili- 
ties, and these, in turn, have fired his indignations. 
And we have exactly the same conjunction over again,, 
when we find him even weeping over Jerusalem, and, 
at the same moment, denouncing against it, in stern 
retribution, the day of its final visitation. "If thou 
hadst known the things that belong to thy peace ! but 
now they are hid from thine eyes !" How tenderly, and 
yet how firmly spoken is the wrath. And then, while 
the tears of his compassion are scarcely dried away upon 
his face, he goes directly into the temple and drives out, 
in a terrible outburst of indignant zeal, the whole crowd 
of hucksters and traders that have made even that 
sacred place, to his pure feeling, no better than a den 
of thieves. His tears did not extinguish his wrath, and 
his wrath did not stifle the tenderness that issued in 
tears. 

Indeed these two poles of sensibility, wrath and tender 
love, are not only compatible ; I must go farther and 
say, that the tenderest, purest souls will, for just that 
reason, be hottest in the wrath-principle, where any 
bitter wrong, or shameful crime, is committed. They 
take fire and burn, because they feel. Furthermore 
you will observe that the man whose dull-hearted 
phlegm keeps prudent silence, utters no condemnation, 
burns with no indignant fire, when some wicked cruelty 



THE WRATH OF THE LAMB. 359 

or oppression is perpetrated, is, in almost every case, 
deficient in the finer, nobler, and more tender sympa- 
thies. His cold, apathetic, politic, sour nature is just 
about as defective in the gentle sensibilities, as it is in 
the fiery and strong impulses. 

3. It is another and distinct consideration that God, 
without the wrath-principle, never was, and Christ never 
can be, a complete character. This element belongs in- 
herently to every moral nature. God is no God with- 
out it, man is no man without it. Take it away from 
God and he is simply Brama, a mere Fate, or Infinite 
Thing — no Governor of the world, but an ideal, in the 
neuter gender, of the True and the Good ; a Beauty 
that lies in sweet lassitude on the world, for literary souls 
to make a religion of, for themselves. Take it away 
from man, and he is only paste, or, at best, an animal ; 
for though animals have the capacity of brute passion, 
or infuriated excitement, yet that moral passion or vin- 
dicatory instinct, of which we are now speaking, they 
as little share as they do the instinct of language, or 
that of scientific inquiry. They have no moral ideas, 
and of course have no moral armature of wrath to set 
them on the side of moral ideas, and steel them, as in 
principled resentment, to be avengers of the same. Now 
it is this principled wrath, in one view, that gives stami- 
nal force and majesty to character. It is in this princi- 
ple of the moral nature that it becomes a regal nature. 
In these indignations against wrong, it champions the 
right and judges the world. Without this, or apart 
from this, submission to wrong is pusillanimity, forgive- 



360 THE WRATH OF THE LAMB. 

ness to enemies a flimsy and feeble habit, love a merely 
clinging devotement. All such tender passivities be- 
come great, only as they consciously consent to bathe, 
what fiery judgment has a right to burn. There is no 
dignity in them, till the grand vindicatory instinct, the 
governmental wrath-principle, is found united with 
them. This also it is, in our humanity, that is always 
volunteering government, and is, in that manner, the 
capacity of society — all movements of redress, all insti- 
tutes of penalty, all executed pains of justice, being 
issued, as it were naturally, from this. It is, in fact, a 
kind of electric battery moral that God has put in the 
body of society, to shock, or stun, or kill, the violators 
of order and right. No wrong-doer can so much as 
touch it, without being struck and paralyzed by it. 
And it is in virtue of this same regal or judicial instinct, 
that God's moral nature, including his lovely and gentle 
sympathies, becomes everlastingly electric, in its wrath 
against misdoing and wrong. He governs with a will, 
he towers in personal majesty, he is great in his author- 
ity, because the regal attribute is in him. Which if we 
suppose to be true in no sense of Christ, if we take him 
to be a gentle way of goodness only, separated wholly 
from this flaming kind of vigor — soft only, and submis- 
sive, and patient — we put him in a grade almost un- 
moral, and show him making feeble suit to the 
world, in the merely plaintive airs of suffering. The 
character is weak, unkingly, unchristly, and it can not 
be more, till the wrath, is added to the patience, of the 
Lamb. 



THE WRATH OF THE LAMB. 361 

4. It is a conceded principle of justice, that wrong- 
doers are to suffer just according to what they deserve. 
It was unavoidable, therefore, that if Christ brought in 
new mercies and gifts of grace, the liabilities of justice 
must be correspondent^ increased — not diminished, as 
many try to imagine. As the score of justice, too, is 
augmented, the judicial wrath must be, and be also as 
much more forcibly manifested — just as we shall find it 
to be, in fact, in the new assertion made of God, by 
Christ's personal life and doctrine. First he asserts the 
principle — " For unto whomsoever much is given, of 
him shall much be required." Next he asserts the new 
liability that has actually accrued under it — " If I had 
not done among them the works that none other man 
did, they had not had sin, but now they have both seen 
and hated both me and my Father." Then again he 
makes specific denouncement both of the principle and 
the liability, declaring to the cities that reject his minis- 
try, that they are bringing a doom of judgment on them, 
worse than God ever put upon the worst and wickedest 
of the past ages — "Woe unto thee, Chorazin, woe unto 
thee, Bethsaida ; it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and 
Sidon at the day of judgment than for you." "And 
thou, Capernaum, it shall be more tolerable for the land 
of Sodom, in the day of judgment, than for thee." His 
apostles, too, only represent him fitly, when they say — 
"treasurest up unto thyself wrath, against the day of 
wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of 
God;" or again — "Of how much sorer punishment 
suppose ye shall he be thought worthy, who hath trod- 

31 



362 THE WRATH OF THE LAMB. 

den under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the 
blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an 
unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of 
grace." The wrath-principle and justice, you will thus 
perceive, have the same place under Christianity that 
they had before. The divine government is not made 
new, but is only new revealed. God is not less just, 
nor more merciful, but more fitly and proportionately 
expressed. 

5. One of the things most needed in the recovery of 
men to God, is this very thing ; a more decisive mani- 
festation of the wrath-principle and justice of God. In- 
timidation is the first means of grace. No bad mind is 
arrested by love and beauty, till such time as it is balked 
in evil and put on ways of thoughtful ness. And 
nothing will be so effectual for this, as a distinct appre- 
hension of the wrath to come. Then, when it is brought 
to a condition of thoughtfulness by the apprehension 
of damage and loss, the vehemence of God and his 
judgments starts a correspondent moral vehemence in 
its own self-condemnations ; when of course it is ready 
to be melted by the compassions and won by the beauty 
of the cross — that is born of God. Now it is no longer 
swayed by interest and fear, but having come into God's 
occupancy and become spirit, as being permeated by 
God's impulse, it ranges in liberty with God himself. 
The precise thing not wanted, in this view, is to get 
justice out of the way. To know that the aveng- 
ing wrath-principle of God's moral nature is forever 
hushed, would be fatal. The weak point of sin is that 



THE WRATH OF THE LAMB. 363 

it can tremble — does inwardly tremble even in its 
boldest moods. Too low in its moral conceptions to be 
taken by goodness and love it for its own sake, it can 
be seized and shaken by the rough hand of wrath. 
Hence the wrath is wanted, and at this point the attack 
of salvation begins. It could not be a salvation by 
rose-water, or by any means less stringent than God's 
roughest enforcements. 

6. "We can see for ourselves that the more impressive 
revelation of wrath, which appears to be wanted, is actu- 
ally made in the person of Christ. I will not stop here 
to speak of the driving out of the money-changers 
from the temple, which has been the scandal of so many, 
just because of the imagined over vehemence of the 
wrath, and which his disciples took as being the zeal 
that was to eat him up ; I will not stay upon the fiery 
denunciations and imprecations of woe by which he 
scorched the oppressions and the sanctimonious hypoc- 
risies of the priests and the Pharisees ; I will not recur 
again to the terrible judgments he denounced upon so 
many guilty cities, and among them even upon Jerusa- 
lem itself; but pass directly to the fact that no other 
preacher ever had appealed as strenuously as he to the 
sense of fear, or employed with as little restraint the 
artillery of God's penalties. The terrible and abun- 
dantly unwelcome, or unpopular, doctrine of future 
punishment is specially his. Previously, the sanctions 
of religion had been temporal, and the future state 
itself had been only dimly revealed; save that in two 
or three single passages of the prophets it had finally 



364 THE WRATH OF THE LAMB. 

obtained a more distinct recognition and pronounced 
its more fearful awards. But Christ, when he came, 
opened up formally and distinctly the great world of 
the future, and pressed home the claims of duty and 
repentance by the tremendous sanctions of eternity. 
He uses, without scruple, in his language, the most ap- 
palling terms, which, though they are certainly figures 
of speech, are yet such figures as show that he is in no 
mood of delicacy, but is keyed up in the wrath-princi- 
ple, as intensely and heartily as he is in the love-prin- 
ciple — speaking to men as offended majesty should, 
when it goes to rebels in arms. He denounces what he 
calls " everlasting punishment," "destruction," "death," 
"fire," "the worm that never dies," "the gnashing of 
teeth," "thirst," "outer darkness," "torment." I can 
not stop to settle the precise meaning of these figures. 
I only ask you to note, first, that they are new, almost 
every one of them, never heard of before, even under 
what is called the hard and pitiless rigors of the Old 
Testament; and, secondly, that they are from Christ, 
the all-merciful Saviour, and tenderly suffering friend 
of the world. We call him the Lamb, for God's mercy 
was never before revealed, by a sacrifice of simple, 
unoffending innocence. And just so these are the 
wrath of the Lamb ; which never before shook human 
bosoms by such words of doom and sanctions of eternal 
majesty. 

Once more Christ is appointed, and publicly under- 
takes, to maintain 'the wrath-principle officially, as the 
judge of the world — even as he maintains the love- 



THE WRATH OF THE LAMB. 365 

principle officially, as the Saviour of the world. He 
consents, that is, when every attejnpt to do better by 
men, than they have deserved, has failed to win them, 
to fall back on the merely retributive regimen of his 
kingdom, and do by them as they deserve. He even 
declares that authority is given him to execute judg- 
ment, because he is the Son of Man ; for as he has come 
into the flesh to unfold God's human sympathy and 
tenderness, so, to maintain what is only fit proportion, 
he must needs be clothed in the rigors of judicial 
majesty. He, then, is to be the judge, as he himself 
openly declares, and before his judgment-seat all man- 
kind, including all his rejectors, shall be gathered. He 
will separate them to their fit award. He will say, " ye 
did it not to me." He will speak the " depart." Who- 
ever has joined himself wholly to evil, put himself to 
the uses of evil, that is, of the devil and his angels, he 
will consign to the devil and his angels, according to 
their real affinities and according to what they deserve. 
And this is the wrath, and this the day of wrath ; "for 
the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be 
able to stand ?" 

But it will be objected, I suppose, by some, that in 
the view now presented, the hope of a possible salva- 
tion is quite taken away. You can not, any more, 
deserve God's favor, how then can you be saved, unless 
God's justice be somehow satisfied in your behalf ? You 
could not, I answer, if God were obliged to execute 
justice, having no option concerning it. But exactly 
contrary to this, the wrath-principle in him is only that 

31* 



366 THE WKATH OF THE LAMB. 

judicial impulse that backs him in the infliction of jus- 
tice, whenever justice requires to be inflicted. And it 
does not require to be inflicted always ; it never ought 
to be, when there is any thing better that is possible. 
The law of right, or righteousness, is absolute and eter- 
nal. Not so the vindicatory principle of justice. Since 
penal justice is only a matter of means to ends in gov- 
ernment, backed by the wrath-impulse, the means and 
occasions are to be regulated by counsel, and the wrath 
moderated by counsel. It is with God, in these mat- 
ters, as it is with us. We are never bound to do by 
men as they deserve, simply because the wrath-impulse 
moves us to this, if only we are able to do what is bet- 
ter for them, and involves no injury to others. "We do 
not want our justice satisfied before we can forgive. 
No more does God. As certainly as we may, at any 
time, do by our enemy and for him, better than he de- 
serves, however pungently we may feel the wrong he 
has done us, so also may God. Something may be 
necessary on his part to save an appearance of laxity, 
when he forgives — some kind of honor paid to the in- 
stituted order of justice, that will keep it in as high 
respect as the exact execution of it. Christ will see to 
that. I can not here describe the provision he has made ; 
enough that when he remits the penalties of justice, in 
his moral distributions, he shows most convincingly 
still, that he adheres to justice in his feeling as firmly as 
ever. It does not follow, when I forgive my enemy, 
that I condemn any the less heartily, or hotly, the 
wrongs he has done me. The very heat, too, of my 



THE WRATH OF THE LAMB. 367 

rebukes, and of my decisive measures of redress, may 
be the means, in part, by which he is subdued, and the 
redress of justice made unnecessary. 

Put it down, then, first of all, at the close of this 
great subject, that the New Testament gives us no new 
God, or better God, or less just God, than we had be- 
fore. He is the I Am of all ages ; the I Am that was, 
and is, and is to come ; the same that was declared from 
the beginning — u The Lord God, gracious and merciful, 
forgiving iniquity, transgressions, and sin, and that will 
by no means clear the guilty." 

At the same time, let no one be concerned to find 
how God's justice has been satisfied, or please himself 
in the discovery how Christ has made up the needed 
satisfaction, by the pains and penalties of his cross. 
For if Christ has satisfied God's justice, then who is 
going to satisfy the justice of Christ? If the offered 
Lamb has propitiated, or appeased, the wrath of God 
against transgressors, then a question of some point re- 
mains, viz., who is going to propitiate the wrath of the 
Lamb ? Furthermore, if the lighter penalty of justice 
has been taken off, on the original score of retribution, 
who is going to lift the more tremendous liabilities of 
justice incurred by those who have trodden under foot 
the blood of the Son of God, and cast away forever all 
the glorious mercies and helps of the cross? 0, it 
grieves me to think of the poor, speculated inventions 
we have wearied ourselves to set up on this summit, and 
most central point, of gospel truth ! "Wood, hay, stub ■ 



368 THE WRATH OF THE LAMB. 

ble — God grant that when it is burned we may not 
perish in the fire ourselves. 

How plain is it, also, in such a view of God and the 
inevitable wrath-principle of his nature, that the charity, 
so called, of our modern philanthropism, is an effemi- 
nate and false charity. It reprobates all condemning 
judgments and all inflictions of penalty. It does not 
really believe in government, or sin as an act of re- 
sponsible liberty. Sin is only misdirection, and the 
misdirecting power is circumstance. Are we not all 
what our conditions make us to be? Why, then, do 
we lay severe judgments, or even torments of penalty, 
on the head of transgression ? Just contrary to this, 
we have seen that no man even is a proper man, whose 
moral nature is not put in armor by the wrath-principle. 
Much less is God true God, when no such central fire 
burns in his bosom, to make him the moral avenger of 
the world. Neither let any one argue that God, as he 
is good, must desire the happiness of all, and that, being 
omnipotent also, what he desires he will certainly bring 
to pass. What if it should also be true, that there is a 
wrath-impulse in his nature, burning to have every 
wrong chastised by the pain it deserves; is not the 
argument as good to show that the chastisement will 
certainly be inflicted? The argument, in fact, holds 
neither way, least of all in showing that God will make 
every creature happy ; for we know, as a plain matter 
of fact, that he does not. There may seem to be a con- 
siderable show of reason in the vaunted liberality of 
this new philanthropism ; still it is only that weak light 



THE WRATH OF THE LAMB. 369 

of moonshine which the higher light of day dispels. 
The eternal King is King indeed, and no such dis- 
penser only of the confections and other sweet delecta- 
tions of favor, as this feeble gospel of philanthropy 
requires him to be. 0, the wrath of the Lamb ! — there 
is the rugged majesty of meaning that transgression 
wants to' meet ! Smooth and soft things only will not 
do. As certainly as Grod is Grod, and Christ his prophet, 
he will not come bringing pardons only, suing and suing 
to the guilty, but over against all obstinacy he will 
kindle his fires of justice, and by these he will reign — 
even where by love he^can not. 

TVe are brought out thus, at the close, just where 
John began, when he came to make prophetic an- 
nouncement of the new dispensation. He looks, you 
may see, for no merely soft salvation, but for a great 
and appalling salvation rather. "JSTow the axe will be 
laid," he says, "unto the root of the trees. He that 
cometh after me is mightier than I, his fan is in his 
hand, he will thoroughly purge his floor, the chaff he 
will burn with unquenchable fire." The doctrines of 
religion will now be more spiritual and the tests more 
severe. God will not be changed, but will only be 
more perfectly shown. Eesponsibilities will not be 
diminished, but increased with the increase of light. 
If Christ bends low at his cross, no such fearful words 
of warning and severity as his were ever before spoken. 
The Old Testament is a dew-fall in comparison with 
the simply judicial, spiritual, unbending, and impartial 
wrath of the Xew. And this exactly is the impression, 



370 THE WRATH OF THE LAMB. 

we can see, of Christ "himself — putting forth his most 
ominous warning in the tender shape even of a bless- 
ing — " Blessed is he whosoever is not offended in me." 
He speaks also of a taking away, and a still farther 
taking away; in his parable of the talents, where he 
seems to be looking distinctly on the fact that, as life 
progresses, every soul is descending more and more 
closely down to justice; losing out the conditions and 
prospects, one after another, of being treated better 
than it deserves ; to be finally suited in the only alter- 
native left — treated in strict justice as it deserves. In 
his tenderest accents of mercy, there is always blended, 
as it were, some reverberative note of judgment; as if 
there was a voice behind saying, behold, therefore, the 
goodness — and severity of God ! It does not signify 
as much when he unmasks his judgment throne, and 
shows the gathering in, and tells the issues to be made, 
as it does that his very love is so visibly tempered with 
dread, in the sense of what his rejectors are doing. O, 
how far away the conceit of that clumsy speculation 
which shows him smoothing down the rugged front of 
justice. No such conception of his gospel mission has 
he, as we can easily see for ourselves. Christianity to 
him, my friends, is not the same thing that it has been 
to many of you. Doubtless it is a great salvation to 
him ; and you may also think it such yourselves ; but 
if you take it simply as a penal satisfaction for your 
sins, placing its value wholly in that, so great an abuse 
will scarcely suffer it to have been, or in fact ever to be, 
any real salvation to you at all. You presume npon 



THE WRATH OF THE LAMB. 371 

the cross. You take it for granted that Christ is going 
to do by you better than you deserve, whereas that 
depends in part on you. If you can not be turned 
away from your sin, then he is preparing to do by you 
exactly as you deserve. Christ understands Christi- 
anity— hear him therefore say, with a manner of dread 
how deep, in words that toll in a warning as deep for 
you — Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be 
broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind 
him to powder. 



XVIII. 

CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS, 



li Forgiving one another, even as God for Christ 's sake 
hath forgiven you." — Eph. iv, 32. 

Under these words, "even as" and the relation or 
comparison they introduce, a very serious and high 
truth is presented ; viz., that our human or Christian 
forgivenesses are to correspond with the forgiveness of 
sins by Christ himself; to be cast in the same molds of 
quality and bestowed under similar conditions. And 
that we may not fail of receiving such an impression, 
the principle or idea is made to recur many times over, 
and in such ways that we can not miss of it, or throw a 
doubt upon it. Thus we read again — "forgiving one 
another, if any man have a quarrel against any ; even 
as Christ forgave you so also do ye." Again, in the 
gospels, it is given us in Christ's own words — "forgive, 
and ye shall be forgiven "■ — "for if ye forgive men their 
trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you ; 
but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will 
3'our heavenly Father forgive your trespasses." He 
will not even allow us to pray for forgiveness, save as we 
ourselves forgive — "Forgive us our trespasses, even as 
we forgive those who trespass against us." All this on 



CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 373 

the ground that there is such an analogy between the 
forgiveness of Christ to us, and ours to our brethren 
and our fellow-men, as makes them virtually alike in 
spirit and kind, though not equal of course in degree. 
The quality of the virtue, the greatness of feeling, and 
height of meaning, will be so far correspondent, at least, 
that the smaller will represent the larger, and, according 
to its measure, reveal the same properties. 

I state the point thus distinctly, because, in the matter 
of forgiveness among men, a kind of lapse, or sinking 
of grade, appears to have somehow occurred ; so that, 
holding still the duty of forgiveness, we have it in a 
form so cheap and low, as to signify little when it is 
practiced. " 0, yes," says the brother, finally worn out 
by much expostulation, on account of the grudge he is 
holding against another who has greatly injured him, 
"I 'will forgive him, but I hope never to see him again." 
Christ does not say that to the man whom he forgives, 
and I suppose it would commonly be regarded among 
brethren, as a rather scant mode of forgiveness — such a 
mode of it as scarely fulfills the idea. Another degree 
of it, which would probably pass, says — "Yes, let him 
come to me and ask to be forgiven, and it will be time 
for me to answer him." Probably a quotation is made, 
in this connection, of the scripture text which says — " If 
thy brother repent forgive him." And most certainly 
he should be thus forgiven, when the repentance appears 
to be an actual and present fact ; but suppose that no 
such repentance has yet appeared. Is it then enough 
to say, "let him come and ask to be forgiven?" Many 

32 



374 CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 

think so, and the argument appears to be conclusive, 
when they demand — "How can I be expected to for- 
give, where there is no repentance, and the wrong is 
just as stubbornly adhered to as ever? What but a 
mockery is it for me to forgive, when there is no for- 
giveness wanted, and my adversary has not even come 
into the right?" 

Well then, suppose that Christ had stopped just there. 
Nobody is asking to be forgiven, all are in their sins 
and mean to be there. They love their sins. They 
have asked no release or forgiveness. They are not re- 
pentant in the least degree ? What then is there for him 
to do ? Is he not absolved from any such matter as the 
preparing and publishing of forgiveness, by the simple 
fact that nobody wants it, or asks for it?" "If they 
were penitent," he might say, "it would lay a heavy 
charge upon me. But they are not, and what is for- 
giveness thrust upon souls that do not even so much as 
care for it?" 

Why, my friends, it is just here that Christ and his 
gospel begin — just here, in fact, that his forgiveness 
begins ; viz., in for-giving, giving himself for, and to, 
the blinded and dead heart of unrepentant men, to make 
them penitent, and regain them to Grod. The real gist 
of his forgiveness antedates their penitence ; it is what 
he does, shows, suffers, in a way of gaining his enemy — 
bringing him off and away, that is, from his wrongs, to 
seek, and, in a true sorrow, find, the forgiveness that 
has been searching beforehand so tenderly after him. 

If we are to understand this matter accurately, as it 



CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 375 

stands in the New Testament, we need to observe that 
two very distinct and, in some respects, dissimilar 
Greek words are employed here, to denote the virtue 
under consideration ; both of which are translated by 
the single, very beautiful, but strangely dishonored 
English word, forgiveness. One signifies merely a let- 
ting go, a release of charges, an exemption from pun- 
ishment, the merely negative good of not being held in 
condemnation ; a word accurately translated here and 
there by the word " remission." The other signifies the 
very positive and operative matter of sacrifice and 
suffering to gain the heart of an adversary ; that which 
not merely lets go, but prepares men to be let go. Lit- 
erally this word means "to bestow grace." Thus in 
the text, where it is translated forgive, we may read — 
" dealing grace, one towards another, even as God for 
Christ's sake, hath dealt grace towards you." There is 
also this remarkable contrast between the two words, 
translating both by forgiveness, that one fixes on the 
very last point, or final effect of forgiveness, viz., the 
release, the letting go of charges, the absolution which 
says, " go in peace ;" and the other finds its main idea in 
the first things of forgiveness, the love, the going after, 
the giving-for, by which the soul is taken hold of sooner 
than it asks to be ; that which did not wait for peni- 
tence to come, that it might let penitence go, but which 
undertook to bring on penitence, prepare it, melt the 
heart into it, and so to execute the letting go of the soul, 
by making the sins let go of it. 

Now both of these words are names, we have said, of 



376 CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 

the same grace; viz., the grace of forgiveness; only 
one names it from a last incident or effect, and the 
other from the initiative movement of love and opera- 
tive goodness, in which it took its spring-— just as one 
might name the dawn, as a mere effect, or call it the 
sunrising, as denoting the cause or spring of the re- 
turning light ; where of course the names are coinci- 
dent, though inherently different from each other. In 
the present case, there is an immense difference between 
the two words employed, as regards the dignity and the 
real amount of their meaning — all the moral greatness, 
or high beneficence, appears to lie in the grace-dealing 
of love and sacrifice that prepares the remission ; and 
yet when the lower, feebler word is used, as it is in a 
majority of cases, all that is in the other word is sup- 
posed to pass into its meaning, and keep along with it. 
Nothing is further off from Christ and his apostles, than 
to suppose, in any case, that the forgiveness they speak 
of is nothing but the simple letting go of charges against 
the penitent. They have it understood always that the 
grand reality of the forgiveness preached is that which 
went before, in the putting by of so much injured feel- 
ing, the going after them that want no forgiveness, the 
giving for, and suffering for, by which they may be 
drawn to God ; — just that which is described historically 
and transactionally, when the apostle says, M Who gave 
himself a ransom for all," "who gave himself for me." 
For it is precisely this which goes into the higher word 
" grace-dealing " and composes the reality of its mean- 
ing. This is the grace, that Christ gives himself for us, 



CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 377 

and so works in us, by his sacrifice, that we are trans- 
formed, reconciled, covered in with God's feeling, in 
one word, forgiven. 

Do not understand me to say that the higher Greek 
word is made up of the verb to give, with the preposi- 
tion for, like our English word. It is not; it signifies 
literally and simply " dealing grace" or "doing grace 
upon;" which is represented by the genius of our 
tongue, in the word " for-giving ;" and, what is remarka- 
ble, the Latin and all the principal modern tongues, [as 
in con-dono, "par-don, ver-gehen,'] make up their word 
signifying remission in the same way, by compounding 
their verb to give with a preposition answering to for ; 
giving it, as it were by vote, and declaring it as their 
inward sense or conviction, that the true forgiving of 
wrong and evil is that which "has its beauty and great- 
ness and the spring of its operative power, in a giving- 
for the sinners and the sins to be forgiven. 

And lest this might seem to be scarcely better than a 
suggestion of the fancy, or a curiosity of speech, let us 
glanGe a moment at the practical, or practically Chris- 
tian, import of forgiveness when it is received. What 
is it practically to us, or in us ? "What does it do for 
us? What internal changes of position, or experience, 
does it bring? Answering these questions, we shall 
find that forgiveness, when ascribed to Christ, has 
suffered a lapse or fall in our understanding, s much 
like that which it has suffered when applied to men. 
For the word is taken by multitudes, including even 
teachers of theology, as if it had no reach of meaning 

32* 



378 CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 

above the lower and more negative of the two words 
just referred to. Thus we say that Christ first prepares 
a ground of forgiveness, by suffering before God (pe- 
nally or not penally) in a manner to even the account 
of our sin ; and then, having magnified the justice of 
God, he is able to let go, remit, release the charge of, in 
that sense, forgive, our sin. Well, suppose the absolu- 
tion is passed and we are let go, declared to be let go, 
as I let go verbally my enemy when I forgive him. 
What does this signify, that God has let go, taken off 
all charges against, his enemy? Just nothing but a 
most barren mockery, unless he has somehow got into 
the man's bosom and executed his pardon, by making 
the sins let go of him. And precisely here is the stress, 
the struggle, the wonder and glory of the forgiveness ; 
that Christ, going before, has gotten him away from his 
sin; and, in all this previous grace- dealing, the reality 
of the letting go, otherwise nothing but empty words, is 
accomplished. Why, the man to be redeemed had a 
hell of retributive causes tearing in his disordered na- 
ture, and the mere letting him go only lets him have 
that hell to himself! No, the grand effort of forgive- 
ness begins farther back, in what is undertaken for the 
sinner to win upon him, change him, get him loose 
from sin, loose from retribution, and then the letting go 
is only the ending off, or completion declared. And so 
the real forgiveness is that Jesus came, to be for his ad- 
versary and execute the great release in him. Long 
ages ago, before the foundation of the world, his mind 
of love began to grapple with the wrong and bitter woe 



CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 379 

of his adversary. He was not saying, " let him come to 
me, in his day, and ask it if he will, and then I will 
forgive him ;" as little was it in him to say, " let him be 
a better man and by-gones shall be by-gones." But 
he was the Lamb slain already. He was contriving 
how to get beforehand in his forgiveness, postponing 
his just indignations, laying himself into the case of his 
adversaries to gain them back, planning a descent into 
the flesh and a suffering life — giving himself for, in a 
word forgiving, in all profoundest reality of feeling, 
ages before they arrive, and of course before they come 
to ask forgiveness. And when they come along in 
their day, and say for their scanty testimony in receiv- 
ing such a grace, " Christ has let us go, Christ has re- 
mitted our sins," he will himself have a deeper solution, 
in the consciousness of having long ago given himself 
for them, and had the enjoyment of their forgiven state. 
Neither will he ever think of it as any fit summation 
of his work in the world, to say that he has first pre- 
pared a ground of forgiveness, and then that having 
made forgiveness safe in that manner, he is able to re- 
lease or let go, or in that sense forgive sins. No, but 
he will understand that he was lifted up to draw men 
away from their sins, and be the release in them ; that, 
by showing how God sutlers in feeling for sinners, he 
has gotten a power in their feeling ; in a word, that, by 
giving himself for his adversaries, in such burdens of 
sympathy, and fear, and care, and against such tempests 
of murderous and bloody wrong, he has slid himself 
into the secret place of their sins and made them all let 



380 CHRISTIAN" FORGIVENESS. 

go — in that manner executed the release ; so that now 
he can say, with real truth in the words, " thy sins are 
forgiven thee." 

We go back now from this excursion, to the subject- 
matter at which we began ; viz., the duty of forgive- 
ness between brethren, or fellow-men. And we carry 
back this very important principle or discovery ; that 
the reality of forgiveness, or the grace of a forgiving 
spirit in us, lies not so much in our ability to let go, or 
to be persuaded to let go, the remembrance of injuries, 
as in what we are able to do, what volunteer sacrifices 
to make, what painstaking to undergo, that we may get 
our adversary softened, to want, or gently accept, our 
forgiveness. If it is in us to forgive, in any real and 
properly Christian sense of the term, it will not be that 
we can somehow be gotten down to it, by the expostu- 
lations of brethren, nor that we only do not expressly 
claim a right to stay in our grudge, or the hurt feeling 
raised by the wrongs of our adversary, till he comes to 
us in a better mind. Perhaps he ought to come, or to 
have come long ago, but that is nothing as regards our 
justification. If we know how to forgive, we shall be 
like Christ our Master, we shall be giving ourselves for 
our adversary, circumventing him by our prayers, con- 
triving ways to reach his tenderness and turn the bad 
will he is in, taking pains, even to the extent of great 
loss and suffering, that we may get him into- the right 
again ; thus to accept our remission, and be joined to 
us openly for Christ our Master's sake. 



CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 381 

But this, it may be objected, carries the obligation 
too high — Christ was a peculiar being, in a very pe- 
culiar office, and it can not be expected of us to follow 
him and be like him, in what belonged rather to his 
official work, than to the merely inherent principle of 
personal excellence in his character. Now it may be 
very true that we are not called to work out the same 
problems of divine government, but we are required to 
have, in our degree, exactly the same modes of charac- 
ter, and all that he did was the simple coming out of 
his character. He had no good ways, or qualities, that 
were more than good, no merits of character that were 
superlative and above all the known standards of merit. 
On the contrary one of the great and blessed objects of 
his mission was to consist, in the true unfolding of God's 
feelings, graces, perfections, so as to draw us into the 
same, or impregnate our fallen life with the same. No 
matter what relations he may have filled, or solved, in 
the great mystery of government, still every thing he 
undertook and bore was for forgiveness' sake, and he 
had precisely the same reasons of feeling for withhold- 
ing himself that we have, when we withhold from our 
adversaries. He had his - personal indignations against 
the wrong of transgressors, he had his disgusts towards 
their character, he had feelings wounded by the sense 
of their wrongs, and if he could have let a little pride 
play among his passions, he would have had his bitter, 
invincible grudges against them; so that when he 
thought of them he would have said, " I want no more 
to do with them. Perhaps I will consider them, if they 



382 CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 

come to me in a better mind, but until they do, I shall 
let them take the wages of their sin, giving myself no 
farther trouble." The only reason why he did not do 
this was that he was too perfect in excellence to do it. 
He must dispense forgiveness. He must go before, and 
give himself for, and watch, and wait, and suffer, and 
sue, at the gate of his adversaries. And why not we ? 
Because, says the objection, Christ was peculiar, and 
could do things out of his peculiarity that are too high 
for us. No! no! his great peculiarity was that he 
could be right. "Faithful and just," says an apostle, 
" to forgive us our sins." He could not be faithful to 
his trust as Creator and Lord, could not be consciously 
just or righteous, (for that is what the term here 
means,) if he did not prepare and offer the forgiveness 
of sins. If there be some kind of rectoral, or public, 
justice that required to be maintained by some fit com- 
pensation, or compensative expression, that is another 
matter, but there wanted nothing in him better than 
that most solid j ustice, which is everlasting, immutable, 
righteousness, to make him a forgiver of sin. And in 
all that you distinguish of a nobler and diviner life, in 
his bearing of his enemies and their sins, he is simply 
showing what belongs, in righteousness, to every moral 
nature from the Uncreated Lord down to the humblest 
created intelligence. Forgiveness, this same Christly 
forgiveness, belongs to all ; to you, to me, to every 
lowest mortal that bears God's image. 

Do we, then, undertake to say, that there is no salva- 
tion, out of this same Christly forgiveness — has no man 



CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 383 

a right to expect salvation, whose soul hangs fire at the 
point of such forgiveness ? " must he forgive, in this 
Christly manner, going before and giving himself for, 
his adversary, if he is to be forgiven ? "What then does 
the Saviour himself say to this ? When he has taught 
you to pray — "forgive us our debts as we forgive our 
debtors," and has added, "but if ye forgive not men 
their trespasses, neither will your Heavenly Father for- 
give your trespasses," what does it mean, or to what 
does it bring you ? Can you turn off the bad conclusion, 
by contriving a sort of forgiveness that is lower, such 
barely as can manage to choke down a grudge, or not 
choke down an adversary, when he comes to ask a re- 
conciliation ? And was that Christ's meaning ? was he 
saying " forgive in your own sense, or else I will not for- 
give in mine?" 0, these niggard forgivenesses! He 
would even make you repent of them ! He wants you 
to be with him in his own! He wants such a feeling; 
struggling in your bosom, that you can not bear to 
have an adversary, can not rest from your prayers and 
sacrifices and the life-long suit of your concern, till you 
have gained him away from his wrong, and brought 
him into peace. This in fact is salvation; to be with 
Christ, in all the travail of his forgivenesses. 

Besides, there is another answer to this question of 
salvation. As we just now said that Christ was simply 
fulfilling the right in his blessed ways of forgiveness, so 
we may conceive that he is simply fulfilling the eternal 
love. For what is right coincides with love, and love 
with what is right. Now Christ is in this kind of forgive- 



384 CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 

ness — unable to stand for the relenting of his adversa- 
ries, going before them, and giving himself for them — 
just because it is in the nature of love to do so. For it 
is a vicarious principle and must insert itself into what- 
ever sorrow, sin, suffering, danger, it looks upon ; and, 
for this most affecting reason, can not rest till it has 
either gotten its adversary to its bosom, or discovered 
the impossibility that he ever should be. Are we then 
to look for salvation, when we are out of this love? 
What do we most readily believe and most commonly 
hold, but that our salvation lies in loving God and 
having his love upon us. The being in heaven's love 
is, we all agree, the bond of heaven's perfectness, the 
very life and constituent beatitude of heaven itself. 
And what will this love do in us but just what it does 
in Christ ? If it keeps down all grudges and hard judg- 
ments in him, if it makes forgiveness his dearest oppor- 
tunity, if it puts him into the case of his adversary, 
bearing his wrongs, and contriving only how to prepare 
him to forgiveness — if, I sa}^, the love so works in him, 
what will it do and how will it work in you ? Let it 
not be disguised from you, that there are many kinds 
of mock love, and but one that is true, even that which 
works so sublimely in the self-sacrificing ways of Jesus 
our Master. Thus there is a theologic love, a state that 
is tested by merely defined contrasts of feeling, apart 
from any effects in the practical sacrifices of the life. 
There is also a sentimental love, taken with God's 
beauty. And again there is a philanthropic love, 
which is caught with great expectations for man, coming 



CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 385 

out of its own prodigious, better than Christian, reforms. 
Now the test of all these mock species of love is that 
there is no forgiveness in them. You may be in this, 
or that, or all of them, and they will not help you to 
bear one enemy, or put you into any tender ways of 
seeking after an adversary. Could there be any 
more damning evidence against your love, whether it 
be the defined evangelical, or the sentimental, or the 
philanthropic, than that there is no Christly forgiveness 
in it ? That being true, how is any salvation to come 
out of it? No, my friends, this is the love — the only 
true — "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because 
he laid down his life for us ; and we ought to lay down 
our lives for the brethren." 

Taking now this high view of the Christian spirit as 
related to Christ, it would not surprise me, if there 
should be a feeling of special revulsion, or repulsion, 
rising up in some of your hearts, to thrust away even 
farther than ever the claims of religion. " I could not 
be a Christian after this kind," you will say, "and I 
never can be. If I must forgive all the wrongs I meet, 
after this manner, I must give up any right to be a 
proper man. Such a volunteering of forgiveness before 
it is sought, and even when smarting under the bitter 
wrongs of an enemy, is too spiritless and weak in the 
look of it — I could not endure being held down to any 
such forgiving way." All this, my friends, may be 
very true, regarding only the present key of your feel- 
ing and life— I presume it is. But it may be equally 

33 



386 CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 

true, at the same time, that your judgment is a false 
one, and that this very impossible looking forgiveness, 
when you are once really in it, by the grace of God, 
will be such an element of dignity, and rest, and 
strength, and conscious superiority to all wrong-doers 
and wrongs, that you will even seem to be raised by it 
in the relative grade of your nature itself. Why, my 
friends, instead of being humbled, and tamed, and put 
in mortification, by this entering into forgiveness with 
Christ, you will ascend rather into greatness and con- 
scious sovereignty with him, and will then, for the first 
time, begin to conceive what it is to be free and a king ! 
No, the forgiveness you so much distaste is probably 
not the forgiveness I describe, but the low, false kind 
of your old associations ; that niggard, misnamed for- 
giveness that cheapens the grace by putting all sacrifice 
out of question, and makes it distasteful by reducing it 
to so low a figure, that pride can be just goaded into it. 
Sticking fast in its bitternesses, resentments, and 
grudges, and contriving how little and late to forgive, it 
is only dogged into some verbal letting go, which is the 
more certainly cross to self-respect, that there is no 
genuine meaning in it, and nothing genuine but the fit 
mortification. Not so is it, but far otherwise, with the 
really C bristly forgiveness. Here the soul has a really 
great feeling to begin with, and the moment it under- 
takes for its adversary, it goes above him. No matter 
what his power and the dignity of his station, the hum- 
blest peasant puts him under, when he begins to pray 
for him, and contrive and labor for his sake. No mat- 



CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 387 

ter what, or how great, the wrong you have suffered, the 
way to make it greater is to hug it fast in grudges and 
blistering resentments. Pride, passion, hate, will make 
a great wrong out of a very small one ; but in the true 
forgiveness, you ascend to a range of feeling so high, so 
immovably serene, that the greatest wrong looks small 
under you, and quite as truly the greatest wrong-doer. 
0, there is no greatness possible to man, none that lifts 
him so nearly out of the world, and above it, as the 
true Christly forgiveness. This was the greatness of 
Christ himself. Did any being ever tread the world in 
such majesty as he? And his wrongs were bitter 
enough, and his adversaries high enough, and, what is 
quite as conspicuous, he keeps the true sense always of 
their wrongs, and hates the hateful in their sins, and 
feels a fit disgust for what is disgusting in their charac- 
ter, holding all his judgments level and true, as if he 
were going to proceed entirely by tnem; yet giving 
himself, as it were out of majesty, for the wrongs he 
condemns and the enemies he is obliged to pity. Do 
you call this an humble, mortifying key to live in? 
Must you shrink from this? Why, my friends, the 
moment you are born into this high consciousness you 
will feel that your heads strike heaven rather. 

Brethren in Christ, let me also turn the lessons of 
this subject specially towards you ; for it was specially 
Christian brethren, even those of Ephesus, that the 
apostle was addressing when he exhorted — "forgiving 
one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven 
you," 



388 CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 

You have seen what this forgiveness means, what a 
volunteering there is in it, how the true Christian works 
in it, long before the forgiveness is wanted, works in 
sacrifice and patience, even as all love must. What I 
want therefore to know, my brethren, is whether you 
find this forgiveness in you? Can you give yourself 
for your brother, or do you hold off in the stiff pretense, 
that he must come to you first and right himself? Can 
you be the Christian towards him, or can you more 
easily hug your injury, as a wound bleeding internally, 
and hold yourself aloof? Let me tell you then how 
very bad the sign is, when a Christian is slow to forgive. 
It does not show, it is true, that he is a vicious, or 
viciously depraved, man, as other kinds of fault, or de- 
viation would, but it shows a great amount of unsancti- 
fied nature in him — none can tell or guess how much. 
For it is our proud, wild nature, just that in kind, 
though not in degree, that is observed to burn so inex- 
tinguishably, in the bloody resentments of savages, 
which makes it so hard for us to forgive. Therefore, 
if any one finds it more easy to stay in the savage feel- 
ing, than to go after his adversary in the Christian, the 
indication is fearfully bad. Nay, it is even a very un- 
pleasant and doubtful sign, when one has an adversary 
long to forgive ; for when a true Christian goes after 
his adversar}', in such temper as he ought, tender, as- 
siduous, proving himself in his love, by the most faith- 
ful sacrifices, he is not like to stay by his enmity long. 
As the heat of a warm day will make even a willful 
man take off his overcoat, so the silent melting of for- 



CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 389 

giveness at the heart will compel it, even before it is 
aware, to let the grudges go. Still a really good man 
may have enemies, all his life-long, even as Christ had, 
and the real blame may be chargeable not against him, 
but against them, and it would be too much to make 
their obstinacy a certain proof against his fidelity. 
Enough that he follows his Master, and allows them no 
reason for their obstinacy, by the stint of his own 
affectionate and self-sacrificing endeavors. Commonly 
the wrong-doer of two parties will be the most unfor- 
giving, and, for just that reason, the wrong sufferer will 
be readiest and most forward in forgiveness. 

Sometimes the alienated, or aggrieved parties, will 
both of them be Christian brethren; and how very sad 
a sight is it, and how much to be pitied when two 
brethren fall into an enmity ! How frightfully fallen is 
their look when you look at them ! How much worse 
their internal look to themselves ! When they go to 
pray in secret, how are they choked in their prayers ! 
How very likely are they also, to be even choked off 
soon from prayer itself. How certain are the} r in this 
manner, even against much endeavor, to go down in 
their piety. The warm heart they once had, or seemed 
to have — where is it ? If they beamed in rich feeling 
once on every body, and it was a blessing to meet them 
and be warmed in the glow of their faces, the blessing 
and the glow are soon gone, and we may almost say the 
faces too; for there is scarcely any but a negative 
meaning left in them. O, ye pitiable and sad pair of 
disciples, that are paired in your enmity ! How easily 



390 CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 

and beautifully paired might you be in your forgive- 
ness ! Go apart and think of this ! go apart and pray 
over it! Xay, come together and pray over it! Pray 
especially, as you most need, that Grod will forgive you, 
even as you forgive each other — thus or — never. 

Sometimes it will happen that a whole brotherhood 
of disciples will be scored and scorched by disaffections, 
jealousies, wounded feelings that are akin to enmity, in 
the same manner. There is much talk and a general 
talking down of course, and as a family quarrel brings 
down family respect, so it is when brethren are set to 
the work of diminishing each other's worth and charac- 
ter. Believe them and they are all no better than they 
should be. If they once loved each other, and were 
firmly locked together in their common cause, so much 
the worse now, for the dishonor falls on their tender- 
nesses and prayers, and all the good things that seemed 
to be in their love. The Holy Dove flies their assem- 
blies, or only hovers doubtfully over them, unable to 
light where there is no peace. "When they come to pray 
together, it is only locally together, and not in spirit that 
they pray. There is a dreary chill in their assemblies. 
Neither the prayers appear to go up, nor the preaching 
to come down. There is no savoring element for the 
word, and of course there is as little due sense of savor 
from it. It is neither fire, nor hammer, but a chill 
made audible rather, like the ripping, rifting noises of 
some ice-clad lake or river in a silent, freezing night. 
The power is all gone, fatally benumbed. The power 
of the word, the power of the living epistle, that of the 



CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 891 

prayers — every sort is gone, and there is no fire of 
heaven left. 

What then shall they do ? Some of them perhaps will 
finally begin to say, let us take the counsel of Lot and 
Abraham — go to the right, and go to the left. Yes, 
but there is a difference ; these friends, Abraham and 
Lot, parted because they were agreed, not because they 
were at variance; parted to save their agreement and 
not to comfort their repugnances. Have then Christian 
brethren, under Christ's own gospel, nothing better left, 
than to take themselves out of sight of each other? — 
going apart just to get rid of forgiveness ; going to carry 
the rankling with them, live in the bitterness, die in the 
grudges of their untamable passion? What is our 
gospel but a reconciling power even for sin itself, and 
what is it good for — cross, and love, and patience, and 
all — if it can not reconcile ?> No, there is a better way ; 
Christ lays it on them, by his own dear passion where 
he gave himself for them, by his bloody sweat, by his 
pierced hands, and by his open side, to go about the 
matter of forgiving one another even as he went about 
forgiving them. 0, it is a short method, and how 
beautiful, and one that never failed. When they are 
ready to go before all relentings, and above all grudges, 
and be weary, and sick, and sad, and sorrowful, and so 
to give themselves for their adversaries, weeping on 
their necks in tender and true confession, they will not 
be adversaries long, but they will be turning all together 
to the cross, and joining in the prayer — forgive us our 
trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. 



392 CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS. 

They had much to say before of forgiveness, they were 
all ready to forgive, but they could not find how much, 
or when, or how, because they took forgiveness in too 
light a key. Now they take it in Christ's meaning, and 
how shortly are their troubles ended. They can not 
forgive enough, or soon enough, or with half as much 
love as they would. The bitterness, and wrath, and 
anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, are put away, 
with all malice. They are kind one to another, tender- 
hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for 
Christ's sake, has forgiven them. 



XIX. 

CHRIST BEARING THE SINS OF TRANSGRESSORS. 



11 So Christ was once offered to hear the sins of many." — 
Heb. ix, 28. 

Christ bearing our sins ought to be the tenderest and 
most soul-subduing of all facts conceivable. And yet 
it may even be made quite revolting, by the over literal, 
and legally hard, face put upon it. Perhaps I ought to 
say that it too often is, and that what is given to be the 
new creating power of God in our lives, is made, in this 
manner, to be an offense that even balks our repent- 
ances. What I propose then, at the present time, is to 
answer, in a very practical way, the very practical 
question — 

In what sense, or manner, it is, that Christ hears the sins 
of the world f 

To make the answer clear, I begin by specifying some 
things which are not to be understood by it. 

Thus we are not to understand that the sins of the 
world are put upon him, or transferred to him, so as to 
be his. That is impossible. Guilt is a matter so strictly 
and eternally personal, that nobody can be in it, but the 
transgressor himself to whom it belongs. Apart from 
him it is nothing. Strike him out of existence and it 



394 CHRIST BEARING THE SINS 

no longer exists. The bad conscience, the blame, the 
damning self-conviction, is as incommunicably his, even 
as his brain, or his will. Indeed, the creatorship of the 
world can as well be transferred, as the doership of a 
sin. The meum and tuum of property can be transfer- 
red, but the meum and tuum of sin is even absolute. If 
I owe a debt, another man can make himself a debtor in 
my place, but if I am a felon, no other man can be the 
felon for me. 

It follows, in the same view, that Christ does not bear 
our sins in the sense that he bears our punishment. 
Everlasting justice forbids any such commutation of 
places in punishment. What is this justice? An in- 
dignation against wrong that wants pain out of some- 
body, caring only that the quantum be made up ? Or 
is it, rather, an indignation against the wrong-doer him- 
self, and no other ? No matter if another consents to bear 
that indignation, and suffer all the deserved pains of the 
wrong-doer, when that second person comes to offer 
himself, God's justice will forthwith object in the 
question — "Are you guilty of this man's sin? Doubt- 
less you may be his friend, but the only thing you can 
do for him is to be innocence in him, and you can as 
well do that as to be guilty instead of him. But as long 
as you are innocence yourself, what kind, of transaction 
is it that you undertake, when you come to be punished 
in innocence? What opinion have you of my justice, 
when you expect me to release the pains deserved, if 
only I can get enough that are not deserved? Did I 
ever threaten to punish the guilty man, or somebody 



OF TRANSGRESSORS. 395 

else, when m y law should be broken ? You ask more 
than is possible, when you ask me to smooth over even 
the everlasting distinctions of principle, and be satisfied 
with the punishment of innocence. I can only be re- 
volted by the thought, and should be everlastingly by 
the deed." 

Again, it is not conceivable that Christ bears our sin, 
in the sense that the abhorrence of God to our sin is 
laid upon him, and expressed through, and by means 
of, his sufferings. How can God lay abhorrence upon 
what is not abhorrent? Is he going to abhor goodness, 
truth, beauty itself? And if Jesus, being all this, comes 
in as a volunteer into the place of transgressors, chal- 
lenging upon himself the abhorrence due to them, will 
God falsify and mock all his own approving judgments 
and moral affinities, by acting an abhorrence which he 
must renounce every one of his perfections to feel? 
Perhaps it will be imagined that he only puts great 
pains on Christ, which we ourselves are to look upon as 
tokens of abhorrence to us. That would be very in- 
genious in us, but how are we going to take up such a 
thought? In the first place, God did not inflict those 
pains, but we ourselves. Are we then going to put 
Christ to death and take it up as a religious discovery, 
having a gospel in it, that God's abhorrence to us is so 
far expressed by our very abominable deed of murder, 
that it need not be any more, by our punishment ? We 
can easily enough imagine God's abhorrence, in such a 
case, to the sin perpetrated, and the murderers by whom 
it is perpetrated, but the difficulty is to get either Christ 



396 CHRIST BEARING THE SINS 

or his suffering into the same line ; for the last thing any 
human soul can think of will be, that God's abhorrence 
touches him any how, or looks out any where from his 
pains. 

We come now, having dismissed these rather common 
misconceptions, to the positive matter of the question, 
or the positive answer to be given. And here let me 
indicate, beforehand, a certain point of fact that will 
probably distinguish any true answer ; viz., that Christ, 
in bearing the sins of transgressors, simply fulfills prin- 
ciples of duty, or holiness, that are common to all moral 
beings, and does it as being obliged by those principles. 
If there is any fundamental truth in morals, it is that 
there is no superlative kind of merit or excellence; 
that as far as kind is concerned, the same kind is for 
all, and there is no other. Thus, if Christ has it in-' 
cumbent on him, as a jDoint of beneficence, or love, to 
bear the sins of transgressors, it will be incumbent on 
every moral being in the universe, ourselves included, 
to bear sins ; only not perhaps in the same degree, or 
with the same effect. If he is to be a sacrifice for sin, 
it will be laid upon us to be, every man, a sacrifice and 
an offering in like manner, only not to accomplish all 
the same results. We are not then to look for some 
artificial, theologically contrived, never before heard of, 
kind of good, in the bearing of sins, but simply to look 
after what lies in the first principles of religious love and 
devotion, as related to the conduct of all. Having this 
intent in view I shall make out — 



OF TRANSGRESSORS. 397 

I. A general or inclusive answer to the question, and 
then, secondly, a threefold, particular answer, the points 
of which are included under it. The general is this — - 
that Christ bears the sins of the world in a certain rep- 
resentative sense, analogous to that in which the priests 
and the sacrifices of the former altar-service, bore the 
sins of the people worshiping. The phrase, "he shall 
bear his sin," or "bear his iniquity," means, it is true, 
when applied to the guilty person, that he shall be pun- 
ished for his sin. But when it is applied, as it is many 
times, to the priests and sacrifices at the altar, we are 
not to conceive that the priests, or the altar victims, 
have the guilt actually put upon them — nothing could 
be more absurd — but we are to take the words in an 
accommodated, ritually formal sense, where the same 
thing is true representatively ; the design being to let the 
people feel or believe, that their sins are being taken 
away, as if put over upon the priests, or upon the head 
of the victims. Not to multiply instances, we have the 
phrase " to bear sins " used in both senses in a single 
passage, (Numb, xviii, 22, 23) — "Neither must the 
children of Israel henceforth come near the tabernacle 
of the congregation, lest they bear sin [that is, their 
own sin] and die. But the Levites shall do the service 
of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear 
their iniquity." No one will be so absurd as to imagine, 
that the iniquity of the people is here declared to be 
literally put on the priesthood. They are only to bear 
it representatively, coming so far in place of the people 
before God, as to conduct their sacrifice for them, and, 

34 



398 CHRIST BEARING THE SINS 

as God accepts the sacrifice, put them in the state, for- 
mally at least, of reconciliation. In a similarly repre- 
sentative sense, the prophet Ezekiel lies upon his left 
side three hundred and ninety days> "bearing," as he 
says, " the iniquity of the house of Israel," and upon his 
right side forty days "bearing the iniquity of the house 
of Judah;" where it is simply meant that the iniquity 
was made visible representatively in that sign. So 
when "all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all 
their transgressions in all their sins," were put, as we 
read, upon the head of their scape-goat, and he was 
driven out into the desert, they knew not where, there 
was neither any sin upon the goat, nor any punishment. 
The reality of the whole matter stood in what was rep- 
resentatively signified ; viz., the removal and clearance 
of their sin. 

And here is the ready solution of all those expressions 
in the New Testament, which are brought over from the 
priesthood and sacrifices of the Old Testament, and used, 
with so great power, to represent the relation of Christ 
to the sins of the world. Thus he is declared to be 
"made sin for us," just as the Levites were, in bearing 
the iniquities of the congregation. Thus also it is de- 
clared that he "was once offered to bear the sins of 
many." The meaning is that he comes representatively 
in our place, undertaking, or taking on himself, the case 
of our sin, even as the priests at the altar did. Such 
forms of speech come to be natural, as it were, to the 
Jewish mind, under the uses of their ritual, and pass 
into new applications of a different shade. Thus Paul 



OF TRANSGRESSORS. 399 

speaks of Christ " being made a curse for us." Regard- 
ing Christ as having come into our state of corporate 
evil, under the curse, and borne the bitterness of it, and 
at so great expense delivered us from it, he takes up the 
representative figure of the altar-service, and shows him, 
in that manner, bearing the curse for us. He does not 
mean that Christ was literally and legally substituted, 
in the matter of our punishment, but that he was sub- 
stituted, as the priests were, in bearing the sins of the 
people, and with a like result. Thus also Peter says, in 
the fervor of his obligation to Christ — " Who his own 
self bare our sins, in his own body on the tree;" as if 
our very sins were personally chastised, or punished, in 
the pains of his cross ; and yet he does not say it, but 
turns the sentence, in what follows, in a way to show 
that he means no such thing — M that we being dead to 
sin, might live unto righteousness ; by whose stripes ye 
were healed." After all he is only showing, at what 
expense, Christ takes us away from our sin, and makes 
us " live unto righteousness." And though he speaks 
of "stripes," a penal word, he does not say "by Whose 
stripes God's justice was satisfied," but, "by whose 
stripes ye were healed." 

Christ then bears our sin, we answer inclusively and 
generally, in the sense that he has come representatively 
into our place and got such power in us by -his sacrifice, 
as to take it wholly away. 

Pause here now a moment at the threshhold, and raise 
the question, whether we, as human beings, can have 
an}^ thing in common with him, in such a sacrifice ? 



400 CHRIST BEARING THE SINS 

Of course we can not do the same things ; for we have 
not the same grade of character and power over human 
sentiment, nor the same undertaking for the world upon 
us. We are sinners ourselves, wanting, for outfit in 
duty, just that taking away of sin and renewing in good, 
which are to be the fruit of his sacrifice. It is not to be 
expected, therefore, that we shall come into any such 
answering for sin, as to have the representative figures 
of the altar applied to us ; unless it be in ways more 
restricted and partial. We shall only follow him, as 
our very much abused faculty, and humbler key of 
being, allow us to follow. 

Still it is remarkable how many of the scripture terms 
of sacrifice and priestly intervention are applied to 
Christian disciples, and how constantly they are called 
to maintain precisely the way of the cross. Nothing, 
in fact, is farther off from the New Testament, than to 
conceive that Christ is in a superlative hind of virtue, 
inappropriate, or impossible, to mortals. 

Thus we are called to be sacrifices and priests of sacri- 
fice. " I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies 
of God, [that is, in Jesus Christ,] that you present your 
bodies a living sacrifice, [in the same manner,] holy, 
acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service," 
[the dictate of your moral nature as it was of his.] The 
phrase " acceptable to God," you will also observe, is a 
sacrificial phrase, bearing an allusion to God's acceptance 
of the sin offerings. And, in this sense, it occurs again 
— "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual 
house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, 



OF TRANSGRESSORS. 401 

acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." The disciples are 
taken often as being thus a priesthood, all, with their 
Master — " Kings and priests unto God," " entering into 
the holiest with boldness;" entering in thither also to 
act the part of intercessors — to anoint and raise up the 
sick, as James represents ; to obtain forgiveness of sins 
for the brethren that have committed sin ; to convert 
sinning brethren from the error of their ways, in such 
a sense as to be in fact their human saviours — "saving 
their souls from death and hiding the multitude of their 
sins." » And this word hiding it should also be observed 
is a word of sacrificial atonement ; for to atone is liter- 
ally to cover, that is, to hide ; put away, forever, make 
as naught. Not that we are to do these things in our 
own right, and by our own power, as Christ did, but, 
as in the language just now cited, "by Jesus Christ." 
The conception is that our life is to be so far in the 
analogy of his, and moved by his inspirations, that the 
same words, priest, sacrifice, intercession, saving of souls, 
converting sinners, hiding, or covering sins, will be fitly 
applied to us — that is, in senses modified by our human 
capacities and conditions. 

Having sketched this general outline of what is to be 
understood by the bearing of sins, we now proceed — 

II. To fill up the outline by a more particular state- 
ment of the subject matter included under it. Christ, 
we have seen, bears the sins of the world representa- 
tively, in a figure, much as the priesthood, or the scape- 
goat, bore them, only procuring an absolution for them 

34* 



402 CHRIST BEARING THE SINS 

as much more real and spiritual, as the heavenly things 
themselves are more quickening and substantial in him, 
than their shadows in the forms of the altar. This for 
the general statement; which includes, we shall find, 
when we look into the subject matter of his life more 
closely, three particular modes, or distinctly and ration- 
ally conceived methods, of bearing sin by him, in his 
mission as a Redeemer. 

1. He bears the sin of the world, by that assumption 
which his love must needs make of it. Love puts every 
being, from the eternal God downward, into the ease of 
all sufferers, wrong-doers, and enemies, to assume their 
evils, and be concerned for them. Being love, it as- 
sumes their loss, danger, present suffering, suffering to 
be ; all their want, sorrow, shame, and disorder ; and 
goes into their case to restore and save. As a father, 
who has a dear son straying from honor and virtue, as- 
sumes that son to be an inevitable burden on his love, 
and bears him, sin and all, as a heavy load upon his 
feeling, striving after him in many tears, and prayers,- 
and weary contrivings, and it may be under great per- 
sonal abuse, that he may regain him to a better life, just 
so God assumes in Christ all transgressors and ene- 
mies, and all their sin, and all their coming woes, and 
bears them on his paternal feeling, through great waves 
of living conflict and dying passion — " For God so loved 
the world that he gave his only begotten son, that 
whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have 
everlasting life." The assumption is such that we may 
even look upon it and speak of it, as a kind of substitu- 



OF TRANSGRESSORS. 403 

tion. Hence the strongly substitutional language em- 
ployed concerning it. But there is no room for mis- 
taking the meaning of such language. The precise na- 
ture of the assumption, or substitution, is given when 
the evangelist says of Christ's healing works — " That it 
might be fulfilled that was spoken by Esaias the 
prophet, himself took our infirmities, and bare our sick- 
nesses." It does not mean that Christ literally took into 
his body, and bore, himself, all the fevers, pains, lame- 
nesses, blindnesses, leprosies he healed, but simply that 
he took them upon his sympathy, bore them as a burden 
upon his compassionate love. In that sense, exactly, he 
assumed and bore the sins of the world ; not that he be- 
came the sinner and suffered the due punishment himself, 
but that he took them on his love, and put himself by 
mighty throes of feeling, and sacrifice, and mortal passion, 
to the working out of their deliverance. And these 
were the throes in which we find him often struggling ; 
declaring now that his soul is troubled, heaving now, in 
prostrate weakness, and bloody sweat, on the ground. 
In these throes he died, saying, "It is finished" — viz., 
the bearing of sins that he had undertaken to bear. 
The sins were never his, the deserved pains never 
touched him as being deserved, but they were upon his 
feeling in so heavy a burden as to make him sigh, " my 
soul is exceeding sorrowful." And just because the 
world in sin took hold of his feeling in this manner, was 
he able, in turn, to get hold of the feeling of the world, 
and become its true deliverer and Saviour. In this fact 
lay bosomed the everlasting gospel. 



404 CHRIST BEARING THE SINS 

Let me not be understood now, in transferring this 
analogy, to say, or suggest, that Christ came into such 
a life of sympathy and death of passion, just to give us 
an example which we are to copy. Nothing could be 
more impotent, or farther from the truth. Giving and 
copying examples is too tame a matter to be conceived 
as making out a gospel. No, Christ took our sin upon 
him in this manner and bore it as the burden of his 
mission, just because.it was in his love to doit; and 
that same love, in any being, of any world, in us just 
struggling up out of our lowness and bondage, will put 
us, in our human grade, and according to the measure 
of our love, on making the same kind of assumption. 
We shall take the child of sin, or sorrow, our friend, 
our enemy, any one, every one we see to be in evil, on 
our feeling, and make him a charge upon our sacrifices 
and prayers. Paul knew exactly what this meant when 
he said — "Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfill 
the law of Christ;" — that is, the eternal love-law, or 
standard of obligation, that he himself fulfilled. Paul 
had the meaning too, the very Gethsemane of it, in his 
own heart, when he cried, under his burden — "I have 
great heaviness, and continual sorrow in my heart. For 
I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for 
my brethren, my kinsmen, according to the flesh." And 
the same we find recurring, in one form or another, in all 
the apostles, all the brethren. When they hear the Mas- 
ter lay it on them to minister — " Even as the Son of Man 
came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to 
give his life a ransom for many " — they take the sense 



OF TRANSGRESSORS. 405 

of it ; for, having his love in them, they are not afraid 
to find a cross of sacrifice in the love, just the cross that 
he called them to bear as followers. Thus also it is that 
he institutes a communion for them, and calls them to 
show forth his death ; by which he means, not that they 
are to simply remember his death, or make mention of 
it, but that they are to show the love that can bear sins 
with him, and be a sacrifice even up to that stern limit. 

0, what a calling is this, my brethren, the bearing of 
sins, with Christ. Of course you have not the same 
things to do that he had, or the same capacity to do 
them ; you have not even the same things to do, one as 
another ; but if his love has really been quickened in 
you, the fact will be known by the burdens that have 
come upon your heart; covetousness, world-greedi- 
ness, self-indulgence, prejudices, resentments, feelings 
wounded by injury — none of these will hold you: but 
there will be a most dear love going forth in you, not 
to your friends only, but even more consciously to your 
enemies, and God's enemies. There will be times when 
you seem to be well nigh crushed, by the concern you 
feel and the burdens you bear. Is it so with you ? Is 
it here that you sometimes find even your joy — the same 
which Christ himself had and bequeathed to you? 
Have you found, as every mother, for example, has, 
and every Christian may, that love-pains are the deepest 
attainable joys ; tragic exaltations of a consciously great 
feeling that, in bearing enemies and sins, challenges 
eternal affinity with Christ and with God ? 

2. It is another and equally true conception of the 



406 CHRIST BEARING THE SINS 

bearing of sins by Christ, that he is incarnated into the 
state of sin, including all the corporate woes of penalty, 
or natural retribution, under it — woes that infest the 
world, the body, and the social and political depart- 
ments of human affairs. These disorders and mischiefs 
comprehend what is called, in scripture, " the curse ; ? ' for 
the curse is just that state of retributive disorder, and 
disjunction, that follows, under natural laws, the out- 
break of sin The virus of disease, possibly of all dis- 
ease, is generated under and by these laws. Natural 
causes are beneficent henceforth, only in the qualified 
sense, that they are attacking sin with due mixtures of 
pain, as well as with favors undeserved. Dreadful su- 
perstitions cloud the general understanding. Truth is 
obscured. Passion is made coarse and violent. Envies, 
ambitions, grudges, hatreds, are loosened, and bloody 
wrongs are instigated everywhere by them. Oppres- 
sions, persecutions, rebellions, wars, roll across the na- 
tions, and turn the world's history into a kind of Alce- 
dama. This now is the curse, the corporate woe of the 
world, and when Christ comes down into the world to 
be incarnate in it, and do his work of love, he enters 
himself into its corporate evils, and takes them just as 
they are ; even as a man, plunging into the sea, would 
take the waves and the monsters coursing in it as 
they are. All which is described by an apostle, when 
he says, that Christ "was made a curse for us." Nor, 
when he adds, "for it is written, cursed is every one 
that hangeth on a tree," does he mean to say that Christ 
is made a curse for us only in the sense that he is 



OF TRANSGRESSORS. 407 

crucified, or at the particular point of his crucifixion ; 
he merely drops in this allusion, touching that particular 
point, taken as a good type of all that he does and 
suffers in the world ; for he meets the corporate woe 
and retribution of the world at every step. His body, 
as being born of the flesh, has the mortal maladies and 
temptations of the curse working subtly in it. When 
there is no room at the inn but only in the manger, that 
is the corporate mischief and curse of society, where the 
great rule down the humble, and respect goes only by 
appearances. The jealousy of Herod is the curse, before 
which he flies into Egypt. The bigotry of the priests 
was the curse. The slowness of his friends, the denial 
by one, the betrayal by another, the flight of all, was 
the curse. The chief priests and the rabbis, and the 
council, and Pilate, and Herod, all combined against 
him, only represent the corporate wrath, and wrong, 
and curse, of the world. Incarnated thus into the curse, 
he had the living contact of it at every breath. The 
waves of God's retribution dashed against him all the 
way, as he waded through on his course. Innocent he 
was, but had none of the rights, or proper fortunes of 
innocence. Not that any thing befell him as punish- 
ment, and yet he was scorching, every hour, under the 
great world's corporate evils ; those which God's retri- 
butions had kindled for the chastisement of its sin. 
And why is he here, for what is he bearing thus the sin 
of the world ? Not that he may suffer, not that he may 
idly brave so much of suffering — of what possible use 
were this ? — no, but he is here because he has an errand 



408 CHRIST BEARING THE SINS 

that brought him, or required him to come. His object 
is to gain the human heart ; and, to do it, he must open 
the heart of God ; and to do that, he must not come 
flying over the world, but must be incarnated into it, 
put upon the same human footing in his human life, that 
we are — all this to make God's feeling intelligible, or 
what is the same, to open God's sympathies to us, and 
open our sympathies to God ; thus to beget us anew in 
God's likeness. If he had come to be an exceptional 
man, whom the waves of the world's corporate evils 
could not touch, or if he had come as a man of brass, 
not to feel their touch, he were in fact nothing to us. 
But now that we have him struggling in the waves with 
us, touched with all our infirmities, and bearing, in 
deep sympathy, all our human evils, 0, how tenderly, 
do we cling to him and what strength do we get from 
his power and patience in our hearts ! 

Now, my friends, it would seem, at first view, to be 
very wide of all possibility, that we should be called to 
any such bearing of sin as this. Are we going to be 
incarnated like our divine Master ? Even so ! Drop- 
ping only the form of the word, the coming into flesh, 
it is no inconsiderable part of our dignity and God-like- 
ness in sacrifice, that we are able to go directly down 
into the corporate evils of men, for their good ! — into 
some house, for example, or village, or city, where a 
dreadful pestilence rages, to minister to their sick ones 
and comfort their dying ; into the disgusts of low and 
filthy society, where vice rages, rescuing the victims 
and their children ; into works of reformation, or 



OF TRANSGRESSORS. 409 

maintenances of truth, that are unpopular, just because 
society has lost the truth. Christ bids you make a feast 
and call the lame, the halt, and the blind, passing, for 
the time, into their range of sympathy — what is that but 
a kind of incarnation, like that which brought him down 
out of heaven's orders of glory, into the lame and halt- 
ing sorrows of our human apostasy. When, too, you go 
out, in God's love, into scenes of dissipation, or of 
splendid profligacy, it is an almost literal incarnation — 
a going into the flesh to be tempted as Christ was. 
Perhaps you are just now in the question, whether you 
shall forsake the refinements and comforts of a Christian 
home, and go down as a missionary, for all your future 
life, into the level of a barbarous and idolatrous people, 
where your motives will not, for many long years, be 
even so much as conceived, where your sympathies will 
be repelled, your operations looked on with jealousy, 
your beginnings crushed by violence, and many a sad 
long night of tears and groanings, witness your Greth- 
semane ? Will you go, or will you not ? What is it, 
in fact, but the question, whether you can be incarnated 
with your Master, under a little different version of the 
word ? Almost half our duties come to us in this shape, 
raising the question, whether we can take the corporate 
evils of some condition that is unpopular, distasteful, 
unappreciative, hostile, or without dignity ? In these 
things it is one of our greatest privileges to follow, and 
know that we follow, our Master — are we ready ? 

3. Christ bears the sin of the world, in the sense that 
he bears, consentingly, the direct attacks of wrong, or 

35 



410 CHKIST BEARING THE SINS 

sin, upon his person ; doing it, of course, in but a few 
instances, such as may have been included in his com- 
paratively short life, but showing, in those few instances, 
how all the human wrongs are related to his feeling, or 
would be if he suffered them all. And here again it is 
that he gets an amazing power, as a redeemer, over the 
sins of the world. He did not come into the world to 
suffer these wrongs as an end, or to brave them by an 
ostentation of patience, as possibly some may under- 
stand, when they hear him commanding one who is 
smitten on one cheek to turn the other. He is not 
counseling, in such words, a defiant, but only a total 
non-resistance. Coming into the world thus as the in- 
carnate Word of God, God manifest in the flesh, he 
bears the wrong-doing of sin, not defiantly, but as feel- 
ing after the sin ; letting it see what wrong it has in its 
own nature to do, when the Son of God comes to it 
ministering love and forgiveness. And what a spectacle 
is this to look upon ! the Eternal King coming in love to 
win transgression back — mocked in his doctrine, hated 
for his miracles, insulted, struck, spit upon, crucified! 
And the more strangely impressive is the spectacle, that 
the sufferer is dumb, makes no protestation of his rights, 
parries no accusation, answers none. Pilate himself is 
" afraid " before such dignity. All that he will answer 
is, that he is come into the world "to bear witness to 
the truth." He does not say that he is here to bear the 
worst they can do upon him, nor that he is here to suffer 
at all as an end, but that his end is everlasting truth. 
That accordingly which so visibly shook the courage of 



OF TRANSGRESSORS. 411 

Pilate, at the trial, fell with as heavy a shock, on all 
sin, everywhere, afterwards. When the sin found such 
a being, even the incarnate Word of the Father, taking 
its blows, in such patience, and dying under the blows, 
how dreadful the recoil of feeling it suffered ! How 
wild, and weak, and low, was it made to appear in its 
own sight. Thus it was that, in his bearing of sin upon 
his cross, Christ broke it down forever. Or, if it better 
please, thus it was that sin broke itself across the silence 
of Jesus, and the wood, and the nails, of his cross. And 
thus it was that the just now angry multitudes, "all the 
people that came together to see that sight, beholding 
the things that were done, smote their breasts and re- 
turned." All sin was broken, as it were, in that sight ; 
it was the sight of Lucifer falling from heaven, even as 
he had testified in vision before. 

And this kind also is for us, my brethren. Here we 
also are to take the cross and follow, as our Master bade 
us. Many persons appear to suppose, that we are re- 
quired to submit ourselves to wrong as a kind of tax, or 
tariff, levied upon us, without any particular end. 
They take it as a mere blind appointment, and think it 
must be so accepted. Far from that as possible! On 
the contrary it is to be evil or wrong encountered in a 
work of sacrifice, encountered by one who is after the 
ends of love, even as Christ was. That death of his 
was great in power, not because he bore it, but because 
he was in the work of God's love, and bore it on his 
way, unable to be diverted from his end by that or any 
other death. In just that manner and degree, it was in 



412 CHRIST BEARING THE SINS, ETC 



his heart to bear sin. So if wrongs are done to you, 
and the same love is in you, the sin will have a great 
discovery to make in your patience, of its own cruelty 
and weakness. If you do but suffer well, nobody can 
long triumph over you, or live before you unforgiven. 
Do you then remember, that a great part of your Chris- 
tian power and privilege is here, in the bearing of sin 
with your Master. Perhaps you talk down your ene- 
mies, perhaps you mix hot resentments with your 
words, perhaps you break the silence of Christ first, 
and then break every thing else in his example. Come 
back then if it be so, and read, and settle into your 
memory, and transcribe on your heart, that one sen- 
tence of the apostle concerning charity — "Bearethall 
things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, en- 
dureth all things." There you have the power of Jesus 
himself, and it is for you ! 

Having reached this point I see no reason why the 
subject should be farther protracted. There is nothing, 
in fact, to add, even for persuasion's sake. The gospel, 
as we have here seen it, is complete in itself, asking, and 
in fact, permitting, no help from its advocate. 



XX. 

THE PUTTING ON OF CHRIST. 



"But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ" — Rom. xiii, 14. 

The highest distinction of man, taken as an animal 
among animals, lies not in his two-handedness, or his erect 
figure, but in his necessity and right of dress. The in- 
ferior animals have no option concerning their outward 
figure and appearing. Their drese, or covering, is a 
part of their organization, growing on them, or out of 
them, as their bones are grown within. Be it feathers, 
or far, or hair, or wool ; be it in this color or that, bril- 
liant as the rainbow, or shaggy, or grizzled, or rusty 
and dull, they have no liberty to change it,- even if they 
could desire the change, for one that is glossier and 
more to their taste. But man, as a creature gifted with 
a larger option, begins, at the very outset, to show his 
superior dignity in the necessary option of dress. It is 
given him for his really high prerogative, to dress him- 
self, and come into just what form of appearing will 
best satisfy the tastes into which he has grown; or, 
what is very nearly the same thing, will best represent 
the quality of his feeling and character. With this kind 
of liberty comes, of course, an immense peril ; for there 
is a peril that belongs to every kind of liberty. As 

35* 



414 THE PUTTING ON OF CHRIST. 

dress and equipage may create a difference of appear- 
ing, that very nearly amounts to a difference of order 
and kind, the race of ambition, as soon as ambition is 
born, will here begin. And now the tremendous option 
of dress, given as a point of dignity, becomes, under 
sin, a mighty instigator in the fearful race of money, 
society, and fashion. 

You already understand from this course of remark, 
that I am going to speak of dress as the outward an- 
alogon, or figure of character, and of character as the 
grand "putting on " of the soul. It would be instructive 
here to notice the immense reacting power of dress on 
• character, showing* how we not only choose our own 
figure in it, but our figure in turn chooses us ; requir- 
ing us to feel and act, or helping us to feel and act, ac- 
cording to the appearing we are in. But I hasten to 
speak of the analogy referred to. Dress relates to the 
form or figure of the body, character to the form or 
fio-ure of the soul — it is, in fact, the dress of the soul. 
The option we have, in one, typifies the grander option 
we have in the other. The right we have in one, above 
the mere animals, to choose the color, type . and figure 
of the outward man, foreshadows the nobler right we 
also have to cast the mold, fashion or despoil the beauty, 
of the inward man. There is also an immense reaction 
in character ; what we have become already, in the cast 
of life, going far to shape our doings and possible be- 
comings hereafter. 

On the ground of this analogy it is that the scriptures 



THE PUTTING ON OF CHRIST. 415 

so frequently make use of dress, to signify what lies in 
character, and represent character, in one way or an- 
other, as being the dress of the soul. Thus they speak 
of "the wedding-garment," "the garment of praise," 
that "of cursing," that "of pride;" " the robe of right- 
eousness," and "of judgment," and "the white robe," 
and "the best robe" given to the returning prodigal, 
and "the robe that has been washed," and "judgment 
put on as a robe;" of "white raiment," and "white 
apparel," of "glorious apparel," of "fllthiness," or 
"righteousness that are filthy rags," of "fllthiness 
in the skirts;" and more inclusively and generally 
still, of being " clothed with salvation," " with strength 
and power," "with humility," "with majesty," "with 
shame," "with fine linen clean and white, which is the 
righteousness of saints ;" "I put on righteousness," says 
Job, "and it clothed me." And, in the same way, it is 
that Paul, conceiving Christ to be the soul's new dress, 
or what is no wise different, its new character, says 
" Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ." 

All the figures of dress or clothing are used up, in 
this manner, by the scriptures, to represent the forms 
of disgrace and fllthiness, or of beauty and glorj', into 
which the inner man of the soul may be fashioned — 
wearing heaven's livery or that of sin. As character is 
the soul's dress, and dress analogical to character, what- 
ever has power to produce a character when received, 
is represented as a dress to be put on. 

Passing thus into the great problem of life as a moral 



416 THE PUTTING ON OF CHRIST. 

and spiritual affair, we are surprised to find that inward 
character and outward covering are so closely related, 
as to be taken, by a kind of natural instinct, one for 
the other, and the loss of one for the loss of the other. 
What do the first human pair imagine when they fall 
into sin, and make the loss of character, but that they 
have lost their covering? It does not appear to be 
merely a stroke of art in the description given, but a 
most natural turn of fact, that the shamed consciousness 
within is taken, by their unpracticed simplicity, as a 
shock that has come upon their modesty. 

No sooner is the deed done, than the culprits, all cov- 
ered in before by the sense of God's beauty on their 
feeling — for exactly that was their original righteous- 
ness and not any beauty of their own culture — begin to 
be troubled by the discovery of their nakedness ! 
The real difficulty is that the pure investiture of God 
upon their consciousness has been stripped away, thrown 
off by their sin. Nothing is changed without, as they 
foolishly think — stitching their scant leaves, vain hope! 
to hide a loss that is within. And probably the same 
is true of the immense dressing art and trade of the 
world ; it is put agoing and continued, as regards the 
fearfully deep zeal of it, by just that shame of the mind 
which keeps it company in evil, and makes it always 
emulous of some better figure. Were this inward 
shame taken away, and the soul inwrapped, as at the 
first, by the sense of God's beauty upon it, the secret 
phrenzy at least would soon be over. The maiden 
would forget her torment in the sense of a holier beauty 



THE PUTTING ON OF CHRIST. 417 

within, the hidden man of the heart, the ornament of a 
meek and quiet spirit ; and the man of the world would 
be striving no more after the outward shows and trap- 
pings that are needed to cover the lost honors of the 
mind. 

In the same way it is, just according to the mannei 
of the fig-leaf history, that such an immense patch- 
ing art, in the matter of character, is kept in practice in 
all ages of the world. It is the general admission of 
souls, that they are not in a true figure of respect before 
themselves ; but instead of returning to God, and the 
complete investure in which he will cover them, they 
imagine, or get up, small shows of excellence, which 
they contrive to think are as good, for the matter of 
character, as they need. These small shows we have a 
name for, calling them pretexts, shows of covering that, 
after all, do not cover — patches, fig-leaves. In one view 
the absurd figures continually put forward as pretexts, 
in this way, are abundantly ludicrous ; in another they 
carry a look most sad, as well as profoundly serious. 
Politeness — this is one of the fig-leaves; taken for a 
complete character by many, and carefully maintained, 
as the standard excellence of life. Honor is another and 
scantier, assuming still to be even a superlative kind of 
character; more imposing and airy than it could be 
under the restrictions of virtue. Bravery, again, is a 
fig-leaf pretext, put on to cover the loss of courage ; 
for evil in the soul is of a coward nature, and can only 
keep itself up, without heart, by sallies and wild dashes 



418 THE PUTTING ON OF CHRIST. 

of bravery from the will. These and many others of 
the same class are pretexts of character outside of re- 
ligion, but immensely significant, as revelations of the 
shamed consciousness of sin. Passing into the more 
immediate field of religion, the pretexts there invented 
and put forward, as covers to the soul's nakedness, are 
scarcely to be numbered or named — such as sacrifices 
offered the world over to idols, self-tortures of the 
body to cover the sin of the soul, penances, austerities 
of solitude, vows of abstinence and poverty, exactness 
in rites and traditions, orthodoxy, alms-givings, honesty 
in trade, the doing others no harm, resignations and 
fatalizing submissions to God, works of reform and 
philanthropy, patience without feeling, liberality with- 
out character. This fig-leaf stitching is, in fact, the 
great business of the world ; in which we may see, 
more convincingly than by any thing else, the certainty 
that men are goaded everywhere by the secret, inex- 
pugnable feeling of nakedness or a want of character. 
It is a most sad picture to look upon . Then how piercing 
and fearful is the revelation, when the Holy Spirit strips 
awa}^ all the illusions they practice, and they are made 
to see that their righteousnesses are rags and not gar- 
ments, and that they are wretched, and miserable, and 
poor, and blind, and naked. 0, this nakedness of the 
soul ! how dismal a figure it is even to itself! Jesus 
pities it, and comes to it saying, in what gentleness of 
promise — " buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou 
mayest be rich, and white raiment that thou mayest be 
clothed, that the shame of thy nakedness may not appear." 



THE PUTTING ON OF CHRIST. 419 

Nor let any one imagine that these deep wants of 
spiritual nakedness we speak of are to be satisfied, by 
any uprightness in the moral life. The shame is reli- 
gious, not moral — it belongs entirely to the religious 
nature, divested as it is of what was to be everlastingly 
upon it, the conscious infolding of God. The law 
moral is a law of this world, sanctioned by this world's 
custom. It was not this out which the first man fell ; 
for custom had not yet arrived. No, it was the original 
inspiration, that enveloped and, as it were, covered in 
his life ; the holy investiture that he had inductively 
from God, by community of being with him — this it 
was that he had put off, and the loss of which was the 
dreadful shame of his uncovering. Impossible, there- 
fore, it is for any one to reinvest himself with the cov- 
ering he needs. He can not dew himself in the dews 
of his lost morning, can not cover in himself in the 
righteousness that was God's infolding of character upon 
him. What he had by community of being he can 
never reproduce by his personal will. He must have 
it again, as he had it at the first ; only by that same 
righteousness of God revealed to faith, in Christ his 
Son. Here again the robe is offered back, and he may 
have good use of his liberty in putting it on ; he only 
can not make a thread of it himself; the warp and woof 
must be wholly divine — the incovering beauty of God's 
own feeling and Spirit, that enveloped our first father, 
and, in Christ, are offered to us all. 

We pass, then, here to another point in advance, viz., 



420 THE PUTTING ON OF CHRIST. 

to the fact that Christ our Lord comes into the world to 
restore the investiture we have lost; or rather to be 
himself, for us and upon us, all that our sin has cast 
away. The original word of scripture, represented in 
our English version by the word atone, or make atone- 
ment, literally means to cover. In this manner, Jesus 
the Lord comes to cover our sin ; covering, first, our 
liabilities in the sins that are past, by the forbearance of 
God, and the honor he confers on God's instituted jus- 
tice, by community with us in the penal scathing and 
curse of our transgression ; and, secondly and princi- 
pally, in the sense that he undertook to be the divine 
character upon us — yea, the divine glory. For he' does 
not merely teach us something, as many fancy, which 
we are to take up notionally and copy, item by item, 
in ourselves, but he undertakes to copy himself into us, 
and be the righteousness of God upon us. Had we 
been taught, in the best manner possible, what things 
in character to add, what things to change, or qualify, 
or put away, or put on, what could we have done, in 
the weaving of so many and such infinite subtleties and 
shadings of quality, but inevitably miss of all the really 
divine proportions; producing only a grotesque and 
half absurd caricature ? But when Jesus comes to us 
bearing all these finest, holiest proportions of beauty in 
himself, we have nothing to do but to believe in him, 
or receive him in his person, and he copies himself into 
us, by the wondrous power of his feeling and sacrifice 
upon us. Then, as every shade is from him, nothing is 
overdone, distorted, missed, or omitted. The glory of 



THE PUTTING ON OF CHKIST. 421 

the Father, all the Father's character, is upon him, and 
he is able to say — " the glory which thou gavest me I 
have given them," 

Furthermore, there is this wonderful art, so to speak, 
in the incarnate human appearing of Jesus, that he 
humanizes God to us, or brings out into the human 
molds of feeling, conduct and expression, the infinite 
perfection, otherwise inappropriable and very nearly 
inconceivable. Since we are finite, God must needs 
take the finite in all revelation. He can never draw 
himself close enough to get hold of our feeling, or sym- 
pathy, and be revealed to our heart, till he takes the 
finite of humanity. In the man-wise form only can we 
put him on. Otherwise his very perfections, elaborated 
by our human thought, would be only impassive, dis- 
tant, autocratic, it may be, and even repulsive ; as they 
often are, even in the teachings now of Christian 
theology. That he has any particular feeling for men, 
or this, or that man, that his great spirit can be overcast 
and burdened with concern for us under sin, that he is 
complete in all the passive virtues he puts it upon us 
to practice — how could we think it, or be at all sure of 
it ? But here he is, in Jesus Christ, moving up out of 
a childhood, into a great manhood, filling all the human 
relations with offices and ministries in human shapes 
of good ; helping the sick with kind words, and healing 
them by the touch, so to speak, of his sympathies, care- 
ful of the poor, patient with enemies, burdened for 
them in feeling even to the pitch of agony, simple, and 
true, and faithful unto death. And so we have God's 

36 



422 THE PUTTING ON OF CHRIST. 

infinite perfections in our own finite molds, and are 
ready to have them even upon ourselves. God is now 
no more some blank idol of reason, some fate, or in- 
finite abyss, or some frigid, thin immensity of panthe- 
istic unconsciousness ; his vast superhuman proportions 
no longer baffle us, or spread themselves in phantoms 
of glory, which we can as little think as partake. But 
they are given us in the traits of Jesus, who being 
Son of God, has come to be the Son of Man among us, 
living out, in his human way, and so helping us to con- 
ceive, that excellence of God, in which we require to 
be invested. The ineffable character is made human, 
set forth in the human proportions, and we have it as a 
glorious, full suit, prepared in the exactest fit of our 
humanity, yet still divine. , The virtues, graces, glories, 
sympathies infinite, are so brought forth and embodied 
in the incarnate whole of his life, that we can have them 
all upon us at once, when we could not even sketch the 
pattern, by simply embracing, in trust, his human per- 
son. 

In this manner, for this, in brief, is the gospel, we are 
to be new charactered, by the putting on of Christ; 
not by some imitation or copying of Christ that we 
practice, item by item, in a way of self-culture — the 
Christian idea is not that — but that Christ is to be a 
complete wardrobe for us himself, and that by simply 
receiving his person, we are to have the holy texture 
of his life upon us, and live in the infolding of his 
character. And this is the meaning of that "righteous- 
ness of faith" which is variously spoken of in the 



THE PUTTING ON OF CHRIST. 423 

scriptures. It is that Christ is everything for us and 
upon us, and that we are to see our whole supply — 
righteousness, beauty, peace, liberty in good, graces, 
and stores of character, putatively ours in him ; reck- 
oned to be ours by faith, always derivable by faith from 
him ; for this exactly is the difference between a Chris- 
tian and a merely humanly virtuous person, that one 
draws on Christ for everything, and the other on him- 
self — on his will, his works, his self-criticism, shaping 
all his amendments himself. Or, reversing the order 
of comparison, one manufactures a suit for himself, in 
patches of character gotten together and laid upon the 
ground of his sin, and the other takes a whole robe of 
life, graciously fitted and freely tendered, in the hu- 
manly divine excellence of Christ his Saviour — who is 
thus made unto him wisdom, righteousness, sanctifica- 
tion and redemption. 

But we are to put him on — "put ye on the Lord 
Jesus Christ." And here is the difficulty — you can not 
see, it may be, how it is done. The very conception is 
unintelligible, or mystical, and you can not guess, it may 
be, what it means. What then does it mean to put on 
Christ? 

It does not mean, of course, that you are only to 
make an experiment of putting on the garb of a new 
life, and see how you will like it. No man puts on 
Christ for any thing short of eternity. The act must be 
a finality, even at the beginning. He must be accepted 
as the Alpha and Omega. Whoever contemplates even 



424 THE PUTTING ON OF CHEIST. 

the possibility of being without him, or of ever being 
without him again, does not put him on. 

Neither do yon put him on, when you undertake to 
copy some one or more of the virtues, or characters, in 
him — the gentleness, for example, the love, the dignity 
— without being willing to accept the sacrifice in him, 
to bear the world's contempt with him, to be singular, 
to be hated, to go through your Gethsemane, and groan 
with, him under the burdens of love. There can be no 
choosing out here of shreds and patches from his divine 
beauty ; you must take the whole suit, else you can not 
put him on. The garment is seamless, and can not be 
divided. 

Neither do you put him on, when you undertake 
only to realize some previous conceptions of charactei 
that are your own. The dress is to be not from you, but 
from him — the whole Christ, just as he is, taken upon 
you to shape you in the molds of his own divine life 
and spirit. 

But we must be more positive. First, then, there 
must be a full and hearty renunciation of your past life. 
As the apostle words it in another place, you must put 
off the old man in order to put on the new. You can 
not have the new character to put on over the old. 
The filthy garments, all the rags, must be thrown off, 
thrown completely awa} T . Christ will be no mere over- 
all to the old affections and lusts. 

How, then, for the next thing, do we put him on ? 
By faith, I answer, only by faith. For in that the soul 
comes to him, shivering in the cold shame of its sin, 



THE PUTTING ON OF CHRIST. 425 

and gives itself over to him, to be loved, protected, cov- 
ered in, by bis gracious life and passion. It sees such 
beauty upon bim that it dares trust him, and says — 
" be tbou my all, the washing away of my sin, the cov- 
ering of my vileness, my character and life. Lord, 
my hope is in thee!" And this is faith; it is coming 
to Jesus in all his manlike sympathies, characters, 
molds of life, and receiving him, by a total act of trust, 
to be upon you, as the Lord your righteousness. Your 
iniquities are thus to be forgiven, your sin to be cov- 
ered. Eighteousness from him, and not from your 
own will and works, is to be upon you thus, by the in- 
folding of a divine power ; even the righteousness that 
is of God by faith, unto all and upon all them that be- 
lieve. 

Take another conception, which may be more intelli- 
gible to some, viz., that you will put on Christ by obe- 
dience to him; for whoever obeys Christ willingly 
trusts him, and whoever trusts him obeys him. Hence 
the promise — " If a man love me, he will keep my 
words, and my father will love him, and we will come 
unto him and make our abode with him." And then it 
follows that whoever has the abode with him, consci- 
ously, of the Father and the Son, will be all folded in 
by the thought of it, and will live as being in the sacred 
investiture of the divine character and power. If, then, 
you can not understand faith, you can understand obe- 
dience, and if you go into that, as the final, total, giving 
over of your life, I will answer for it, that there will 
be a faith in your obedience, and that Christ will be 

3G* 



426 THE PUTTING ON OF. CHRIST. 

with you, manifested in you, truly put on, as the con- 
sciously divine attire of your life. 

I have only to add on this point, that you are to be 
always putting on Christ afterwards, as you begin to 
put him on at the first. All the success of your Chris- 
tian life will consist in the closeness of your walk with 
Christ, and the completeness of your trust in him. 
You are not so much to fashion yourself by him, as to 
let him fashion you by himself — to be upon you, as he 
is with you, and cover you with all the graces of his 
inimitable love and beauty ; and this you" will do most 
perfectly, when you trust him most implicitly, and keep 
his words most faithfully. 

It only remains, now, to bring our subject to its fit 
conclusion, by speaking of the consequences of this 
putting on of Christ. And I name, first of all, that 
which the apostle suggests, in a kind of cadence that 
immediately follows and. finishes out the text. " But 
put ye on," he says, " the Lord Jesus Christ, and make 
not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof." 
Where he conceives, it will be seen, that one substi- 
tutes, or takes place of, the other — that when Christ is 
really put on, the world falls off, and the lusts of prop- 
erty, and fame, and power, and appetite, subside or fall 
away. The effect runs both ways, under the great law 
of action and reaction — as the old man is put off that 
the new may be put on, so the new put on still further 
displaces the old. This, too, we know by the attestations 
of experience. He that has the sense of Christ upon 



THE PUTTING ON OF CHRIST. 427 

him, has himself ennobled. He is raised in the pitch 
of his feeling every way ; having such a consciousness 
awakened of his inward relation to God, that money, 
and pleasure, and all the petty lustings of the lower 
life are sunk out of sight and forgot. Sometimes you 
will see that an appetite which has become a madness, 
like the appetite for drink, and has shaken down all the 
man's resolutions, and floored him at every point of 
struggle, utterly dies and is felt no more, from the 
moment when he has put on Christ. He wants no rnore 
a sensation, when the sentiment of his soul is full. It 
is as if he were in Christ's own appetites, instead of 
those which have so long domineered over his diseased 
nature. And so it will be universally. If there be 
any over-mastering temptation which baffles you, and 
keeps turning you off in your endeavors, and boasting 
itself against you, here is your deliverance — raise no 
fight with it in your own will, as you always have done 
when you have failed, but simply turn yourself to 
Christ alone : put on Christ, let your soul be so cov- 
ered in by the power of his grace upon you, that you 
feel yourself raised and caparisoned for glory in him, 
and all the little and low lustings of this world will be 
silent — felt no more. 

There is also this most admirable effect in the putting 
on of Christ, that being thus enveloped in his life and 
feeling, a power will move inward from him, that will 
search out all most subtle, inbred evils in you, even 
those which are hidden from your consciousness, and 
will finally assimilate you in them, and in all beside, to 



428 THE PUTTING ON OF CHKIST. 

what lie himself was. This, in fact, is the wonderful 
power of dress, that, while no person who has spent his 
life in the rags of poverty, and the coarseness of low- 
bred manners, can possibly fashion himself to ways of 
elegance, by superintending his every particular look, 
motion, gesture, and tone, the simple insphering of his 
life in new associations and new proprieties of dress, 
may and often does suffice, in a very few years, to re- 
compose and assimilate his whole manner as a man. 
And so it is that Christ will be able, when put on, to 
fashion us into a character of innumerable graces, all 
consolidated, in a harmonious whole of beauty like his 
own. 

Here, too, is the true idea of Christian sanctification. 
It is that we may so put on Christ, and be so infolded 
in him, as to be consciously raised above all bad impulse 
into good, above all guiltiness into a conscience void 
of offense, above all detentions of bondage into perfect 
liberty, above all fear into perfect assurance, and so 
continue as long as we falter not in the faith, by which 
Christ is thus brought in upon the soul, to be its im- 
pulse and the appetizing force of its life. But whether 
this can be fitly called a perfect sanctification is more 
doubtful. That it leaves the soul in a temptable state 
all must and do in fact agree, and if the faith, at any 
time, gives way, the subject will immediately lapse into 
some kind of sin. Nay, if he were sanctified far down, 
in all the deepest, most underground cells of feeling he 
was ever conscious of, there would yet be treasons hid 
still deeper in the soul, and he would fall at once, the 



THE PUTTING ON OF CHRIST. 429 

moment he let go his faith. The truth appears to be 
that, in such a state of perfect liberty and good impulse 
as we have described, the character still is not wholly 
inherent, but only in part ; — a kind of supervening, or 
superinduced character ; a garment of grace put on, the 
grace of which has not yet struck through into the 
inmost nature of him who is covered by it. Christ is 
perfect on him, and he is in Christ, but he is not per- 
fected in himself. The transformation of the man has 
not yet come up to the type of his Christly investiture. 
He is like a soldier in the fiery panoply and dress of 
war. When he has it on him, and hears the trumpet 
sounding bravely, he is bold enough to face all danger 
in the fight ; but there still are vestiges of a naturally 
coward feeling, it may be, in the center and core of his 
personality, such that if you strip him of the warlike 
trappings, and send him out to fight a silent engage- 
ment in that common figure, he will not unlikely turn 
and flee for his life. It is one thing in this way to have 
on "a pure garment, clean and white, and so to act 
purely, and quite another to be clean and white all 
through, in the inmost substance, and deepest impulse, 
and subtlest windings, of the soul's own habit. This 
requires time, and it may be a long time. Even if he 
were to be in Christ so perfectly as not to commit one 
conscious sin for many years, which is possible, there 
would still be in him, after all this long investiture by 
Christ, old vestiges of disease, and disorder, and bad 
passion, not yet sanctified away. 
• But it is much, how very much, that all these can 



430 THE PUTTING ON OF CHRIST. 

be thus kept under, so as never again to break out and 
reign, as loDg as Christ is faithfully put on by a believ- 
ing, consecrated life. Potentially speaking, all sancti- 
fication is here ; for the superinduced character may be 
kept up bright, and clean, full, and free to the last; 
when, of course, it will complete itself in the all- 
renovated, absolutely perfect, through and through 
character of the glorified. 

Observe again the consciousness of strength, and the 
exalted confidence of feeling, that must gird any soul 
that has truly put on Christ. It will be with him, in 
his faith, as it was with the prodigal, when the Father 
said, "bring forth the best robe and put it on him, 
and put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet." 
From that moment he felt strong in the family. The 
shame fell off as the robe went on, and the confidence 
of a son come back upon him. So it is that every 
Christian is strong who has really put on Christ. He 
is clothed with strength and honor, as with salvation. 
He lives in the garment of praise. All misgivings 
flee, all mutinous passions fall under. Do you some- 
times try, my brethren, to be strong by your will, 
strong by your works, strong by what you can raise of 
excitement, or high resolve, that is only weakness, and 
a great part of all weakness comes in that way. Noth- 
ing is more natural for a Christian losing ground, than 
to put forth all the force he has, in a strain of hard 
endeavor, lashing up and thrusting on himself; but in 
that, he is believing, probably, just as much less as he 
is goading himself more. Let him go back to faith, 



THE PUTTING ON OF CHRIST. 431 

see that he lets go mere self-endeavor, to put on Christ, 
and he will have all strength and victory. 

Here, too, be it understood, is the source of that 
strange power of impression, which is felt in the life and 
society of all earnest Christians. Everybody feels that 
there is a something about them not human. And the 
reason is that they have put on Christ. The serious, 
loving, gentle, sacrificing and firm spirit of Jesus, is 
revealed within, or upon them, and they signify to 
men's feeling just what he signified. They fulfill that 
gracious name that was formerly in so great favor in 
the Church — they are all Christophers, Christ-bearers. 
They will even put so much meaning into their "good 
morning," or their bow of courtesy, as to carry a 
Christly impression in the heart of a stranger. This, 
my brethren, is the true power. Would that the multi- 
tude in our day, who can think to be powerful only as 
they strive and cry, and go dinning through the world 
in a perpetual ado of hard endeavor, could just learn 
how much it means, to put on Christ. 

It only remains to add, what has been coming into 
view in the whole progress of our subject, that the only 
true salvation-title is Christ put on, and found upon 
the soul as its heavenly investiture. A great many 
persons are at work, in these times, to fashion a charac- 
ter for themselves, and demanding it of them who 
preach the gospel, that they preach conduct, tell men 
how to be good and right, correct their faults, make 
them good husbands, wives, children, citizens — cease, 
in a word, from the mystic matter of faith and divine 



432 THE PUTTING ON OF CHRIST. 

experience, and put the world on doing something more 
solid and satisfactory. This kind of cant has gone so 
far, too, that many professed preachers of the gospel 
itself are in it. The Master owns them not, so far, at 
least. He wants, not simply a better conduct, but a 
solid, new man — so, new husbands, wives, children, citi- 
zens ; new kindness, truthfulness, honor, honesty, beauty. 
This new man to be put on, as having put off the old, 
is a very different matter from the old man in a better 
style of behavior. It is that which after God, is created 
in righteousness and true holiness — a man after God, 
even as Christ was, when he came in God's love to take 
us on his soul, that we may take him on our soul, and be 
covered in by the new investiture of his life ; that sigh- 
ing we may sigh with him, dying die with him, rising 
rise with him, carrying up all our once low affections to 
sit with him where he sitteth, at the right hand of God. 
All which he figures in the parable of the great king's 
wedding-feast ; where the guests are called by sending 
round to each, for his card of invitation, a caftan, or 
splendid wedding-robe. Putting on this robe the guests 
are to come in, and, by this found upon them, are to be 
admitted and have their places assigned. But it hap- 
pens, at the great eternal feast, as the Saviour represents, 
that the King comes in and finds one there that has no 
robe on him but his own. It may be a very fine, won- 
derfully elaborate robe ; he may even have thought to 
shine there in it more than if it were the king's pro- 
viding. But the king says — " Friend, how earnest thou 
in hither not having on the wedding-garment ? And 



THE PUTTING ON OF CHRIST. 433 

lie was speechless. The king said— bind him hand and 
foot, and take him away." Inasmuch as holy character 
in created beings is and must eternally ba derivative, 
finite from infinite, who shall be able to stand by self- 
originative goodness, who that will not put on Christ ! 
Putting on his robe of self-criticism, self-endeavor, self- 
righteousness, will not answer. All such fine attire is 
only rags at the best. The true wedding-garment is 
Jesus himself, and there is no other. 

Here then, brethren and friends, I speak now to you 
all without distinction, here is the fearfully precise point 
on which our eternity hinges — the putting on of Christ. 
Observe, we are to put on no great name or standard, 
no sectarian badge or livery, no lawn, or saintly drab, 
or veil, or stole, or girdle — none of these are the real 
new man to be put on. No ! Christ ! we must put on 
Christ himself, and none hut Mm. "We must be in- 
Christed, found in him, covered in the seamless, in- 
divisible robe of his blessed life and passion. Far be 
it also from us, when we put on Christ, to think of 
turning ourselves about, in the search after some 
other, finer, pretext that we may put on over him, to 
make him attractive, pleasing, acceptable. No, we are 
to put him on just as he is, wear him outside, walk 
in him, bear his reproach, glory in his beauty, call it 
good to die with him, so to be found in him not having 
our own righteousness, but the righteousness that is of 
God by faith. Cover us in it, thou Christ of God, 
and let our shame be hid eternally in thee. 

37 



XXI. 

HEAVEN OPENED. 



"And he saith unto him — Verily, verily, I say unto you, 
Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God as- 
cending and descending on the Son of Man." — John i, 31. 

With a singular felicity and power of statement, Mr. 
Coleridge gives it for his doctrine of scripture inspira- 
tion — "In the Bible there is more that finds me, than I 
have experienced in all other books put together ; the 
words of the Bible find me at greater depths of my 
being ; and whatever finds me brings with it an irresist- 
ible evidence of its having proceeded from the Holy 
Spirit." God only can be so far privy, that is, to the 
soul, as to make it answer thus, all through, in its deep- 
est and most hidden parts, to his words. Whatever 
may be thought of his doctrine, as a complete and suffi- 
cient solution of the question, it is certainly good, and 
even powerfully good, as far as it goes. And it has a 
beautiful coincidence, which he probably had never ob- 
served, with the very simple and truly natural sentiment 
of Christ's interview with Nathanael. 

Fig-trees make a very dense covering of leaves and 
sometimes drop their boughs very low. ISTathanael had 
lately retired into the cabin of thick foliage thus pro- 



HEAVEN OPENED. 435 

vided by some tree of his garden, and closeted there 
with God, was opening his heart, in regard to some par- 
ticular difficulty, or enemy, or question of duty, or 
promise of a. Messiah to come, in a manner only the 
more guileless, that he felt himself to be so entirely re- 
moved from human observation. Shortly after, proba- 
bly on that same day, being notified by Philip, he 
comes to see Jesus, who is even thought to be the great 
Messiah himself. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him 
and saith of him — " Behold an Israelite indeed in whom 
is no guile!" Nathanael saith unto him — "Whence 
knowest thou me?" Jesus answered and said unto him 
— " Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under 
the fig-tree, I saw thee." Nathanael saith unto him — 
"Kabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the king of 
Israel." Jesus answered and said unto him — "Because 
I saw thee under the fig-tree believest thou ? thou shalt 
see greater things than these." And he saith unto him 
— " Yerily, verily I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see 
heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and de- 
scending on the Son of Man." 

The two main points of the dialogue are, first, that 
Nathanael was so impressed by the finding of Christ, or 
the privity of Christ's knowledge of him, under the fig- 
tree, that he at once declared his belief in him as the 
Messiah; and secondly, that Christ immediately pro- 
claims a deeper finding, and a more convincing privity 
of knowledge, that shall, in due time, be shown or 
proved, by the opening, within his own bosom, of a su- 
pernatural, sense and the discovery to him thus of 



436 HEAVEN OPENED. 

supernatural beings, the passing and repassing, the flow 
and reflow of their blessed society. According to the 
description given, it will be as if that isthmus barrier 
between the two great oceans of the world were cloven 
down, for the oscillating tides to begin their coming and 
returning flow; when also the ships of the nations, 
wafted convergently thither, shall be sailing freely 
through, burdened with the fruits and golden riches of 
all climes and shores. 

ISTow this opening of heaven, which is to be our sub- 
ject, is presented by the Saviour in terms that may seem 
to be a little enigmatical. We shall conceive his mean- 
ing perhaps more sufficiently, if we note three principal 
views of the heavenly state that occur in the scripture. 
First, there is the local objective view, that conceives it 
as a place somewhere in the upper worlds of heaven or 
the sky. Secondly, there is the terrestrial objective 
view, where the New Jerusalem descending from God 
out of heaven and refitting our world itself to be the 
abode of God with men, makes it a province, in that 
manner, of the other. Thirdly, the subjective view, 
which has nothing to do with place or locality, but con- 
ceives the heavenly state simply as a state of spiritual 
beholding and social commerce opened in the soul itself. 
There is no necessary contradiction or disagreement be- 
tween the three conceptions stated ; they are all true, 
though probably in different senses, and may be taken 
as complementary, in fact, to each other. The first is 
more impressive and popular and more commonly used ; 
the second, as being more geographical, is more closely 



HEAVEN OPENED. 437 

connected with our mundane prospects and affairs ; the 
third is more entirely moral and rational, being simply 
the condition of character. All are to be used with en- 
tire freedom, and without any attempt to maintain one 
against the others ; the presumption being that a state 
so transcendent will be only feebly conceived, when 
they are all brought in, to intensify and qualify, or 
complement, each other. 

In the conversation with Nathanael, the Saviour ap- 
pears to be speaking in the subjective way, as of a 
heaven to be opened in the soul itself. In his terms of 
description, he refers, apparently, to Jacob's dream, 
where that patriarch beholds, not without, but in the 
chamber of his own brain, in a dream of the night when 
the senses are fast locked in sleep, a ladder set up and 
the angels of God coursing up and down upon it; 
only what transpired subjectively in his brain he nat- 
urally associated with the place, conceiving also that 
the sky above was somehow specially set open there, 
saying — "how dreadful is this place," and calling it 
"the gate of heaven." So the Saviour says, "ascend- 
ing and descending," putting the ascending first ; as if 
the metropolis or point or departure, in the commerce 
begun, were to be from within the soul itself. There 
lives the Son of Man, reigning in his heavenly kingdom 
at the soul's own center, and from him go up couriers 
and ministers of glory, descending also back upon him 
there. The precise point made, in this manner, with 
Nathanael is, that as he was discovered under the fig- 
tree, so he shall be discovered, as regards the immense 

37* 



438 HEAVEN OPENED. 

upper world of the soul, existing unsuspected in him 
hitherto, but now set open. These two propositions 
cover the ground of the subject stated, and these I shall 
endeavor to substantiate. 

I. That there is a supernatural sense, now slumbering 
or closed up in souls, by which they might perceive, or 
cognize, supernatural beings and things, even as they 
cognize material beings and things by the natural sense. 
And 

II. That Christ undertakes to open this supernatural 
sense, and make it the organ or inlet of universal society. 

I. There is a supernatural sense now closed up, or ex- 
isting under a state of suppression. 

We encounter a difficulty here, in attempting to prove 
the existence of faculties and powers that are shut in, or 
suppressed in their action. And yet even our natural 
faculties are very nearly in that condition at the first — 
no man knowing, or conceiving, what is in him, till it 
is brought forth. We also know that all finest qualities 
and highest powers are stifled, for the time, or even 
permanently, by wrongs and vices. What we here 
suppose to be true is, that in the original and properly 
normal state, souls were open to God, and a full, free 
commerce with his upright society. Being made in 
God's image, they were to be children with God their 
Father, living in society with him, having him to know, - 
enjoy, and love, and having all their desires freely met 
and satisfied by the open ministry of his friendship. 
He was, and, with all his glorious company, was eternally 



HEAVEN OPENED. 439 

to be, revealed in them, as in a heaven of present bliss, 
and immediately conscious communion of life. 

But this original and properly normal state was 
necessarily broken up and brought to a full end, by 
their fall into sin. They now become afraid of him and 
hide themselves instinctively from him. ~No longer can 
he be revealed to their immediate knowledge, because 
the personal affinities through which he was to be re- 
vealed are closed up in them. They fall off thus into 
their senses, and become occupied with the objects of 
the senses ; having the understanding darkened, being 
alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance 
'that is in them. So they live as under heavy storm- 
clouds in the night; the lightning flashes in sharp 
gleams across the clouds, or glares in reel anger fits 
from within their body, but there is no opening through, 
to let in the light of the stars. Heaven is gone out to 
them in the same manner ; God is hid, and they know 
not where they can find Him; spirit and spiritual 
being and spiritual society with his great family is so 
far a lost possibility, that, if they think it, they can not 
give it reality. There is something too in guilt, or the 
state of guiltiness, that amounts to a virtual shutting up, 
or suppression, of all affinities with supernatural being. 
It freezes in perception. It condenses all the Godward 
and pure aspirations and gathers them in, by the dread- 
ful recoil it makes on the soul's own center. It pro- 
nounces a damnation too upon itself, and by its own re- 
morseful severities makes the sentence good. Falling 
away thus from God, and closing itself up as regards all 



440 HEAVEN OPENED. 

supernatural relations and perceptions, it becomes self- 
centered, isolated, a worm in the ground, having its 
belongings there and not in the element of day. 

Is there now any such supernatural sense existing 
under suppression in the soul, as the statement I have 
made supposes ? The question is a very great, and is 
getting to be the almost only, question for our day. 

To go over the evidence briefly, there is obviously 
nothing impossible in the fact of such a sense. There 
may as well be a power to cognize immaterial, super- 
natural being, as material. 

Neither is it any thing, that our philosophers recog- 
nize no such higher ranges of faculty. ISTo faculty is 
ever recognized, save as it comes into consciousness by 
use. That which is shut up, therefore, can be nothing 
to philosophy. When the lantern of a light-house has 
no light burning within, it will be an opaque body at 
the top, as it is in the base below — even the transparency 
will be opaque. 

But we can affirm, I think, with confidence, for one 
distinct argument, that there ought to be just this upper 
world of supernatural insight in souls. As they are re- 
lated to God, there ought to be a power of immediate 
knowledge, in which he is revealed — they require, in 
fact, to be as truly conscious of God as of themselves ; 
for God is the complement of their being, and without 
him they only half exist. Again, as they are related 
to eternal society with all good beings, they ought also 
to have powers of discerning that may apprehend them. 
In this manner, as they are not made to be mere 



HEAVEN OPENED. 441 

plodders, however intelligent, or scientific in distin- 
guishing the laws and causes of thiDgs, but to have 
their summits and supreme destinies of life, in their 
commerce with God, and the supernatural society of his 
realm, their fit equipment requires, obviously enough, 
a higher sense opening towards the supernatural. How 
can the understanding, operating on the subject matter 
of sense, discover, or attain, by mere inference, to what 
is not in the premises of sense, but in a totally different 
range ? Whoever then adheres to immortality and re- 
ligion, and denies the credibility of what is supernatural, 
confesses, at once, that he wants the commerce of God's 
universal society, and cuts off the possibility of finding 
it. 

Again, there not only ought to be aspirations iu the 
soul, and powers of sensing for the supernatural, but we 
can see, by many signs, more or less definite, that there 
are. Sometimes a groping will signify as much as an 
open discovery, and what has the race been doing, in 
all the past ages and everj^where, but groping after 
gods, and demons, and populating even the earth' and 
the sky with mythologic creations. It is as if some di- 
vine phrenzy were in them, goading them on after what 
they so mightily want. Little, indeed, do they discover 
of what is real and true; they only go a marveling, as 
the phrenologists would say, carried off from the mere 
plane of reason, by they know not what. They grope 
with their eyes shut, and their groping signifies more 
than their discoveries. I think also that we can find, 
every one of us, in ourselves, dim yearnings, imagina- 



442 HEAVEN OPENED. 

tions coasting round unknown realms, guesses asking 
after the commerce of good and great beings, that put 
us in profound sympathy with them. Nothing will ac- 
count for what we find thus in ourselves and the world, 
but the fact of supernatural longings and perceptions, 
existing in us under suppression. Indeed, I think we 
should very nearly suffocate, all of us, including even 
the infidel deniers, shut down close under nature and 
her causes. After all, we do think higher things, and 
there is more comfort in it than perhaps we know. 

We are able, again, to conceive certain things about 
this supernatural sense, taking in supernatural things 
and beings, which makes it seem less extravagant. To, 
say that we can sense, or could, other ranges of being, 
and have them in the open heaven of the soul, appears 
to be violent, or extravagant. Just as violent is it still 
to say, that we do take in the world of matter by the 
natural senses, and have it in us, even from the sky 
downward. AYe do not go to things in our perception 
of them, neither do they come locally to us ; the lati- 
tudes, and longitudes, and altitudes, are still there ; we 
do not spread ourselves in presence upon them; and 
yet we somehow have them in us, and subjectively pos- 
sess them. Besides, in the relation of spirits and beings 
supernatural, we know not by what presences and reve- 
lations they may come within the precincts of knowl- 
edge ; as little by Avhat fences they are kept asunder. 
Place in this matter may be nothing, congenialities 
every thing. It does not surprise us that the bad 
should somehow come upon the bad ; as little should 



HEAVEN OPENED. 4AS 

it that the good have a way of social presence with the 
good. Perhaps, too, it will relieve the aspect of extrava- 
gance here, if I say, that faith is nothing but the open- 
ing of the supernatural sense of the soul on the super- 
natural being to be apprehended. It opens, in other 
words, the heaven of the mind, and God, and Christ, 
and the good supernatural society press in to fill it. 
Faith is the evidence, in this manner, even as the scrip- 
tures, declare, of things not seen, and the substance, or 
substantiation, of things hoped for. There is even a 
kind of faith in the sensing of sight, turning mere im- 
ages, in the eye, to things, and making them real. That 
there is a higher sense, realizing beings supernatural, is 
a fact every way correspondent. 

Furthermore it is a'fact well attested, in all ages, and 
proved by manifold experience, that minds do con- 
sciously approximate God and the heavenly society, 
accordingly as they are turned away from evil and set 
open to good. They feel a certain nearness to beings 
and words supernatural, that amounts to society begun. 
And then how very often, as their affinities are more 
completely fined and set oj)en, do they, in their last 
hours, hail the Saviour present, and good angels re- 
vealed, and departed friends whom they salute by 
name, waiting to receive them. Doubtless all such 
things will be set down as the illusions of their wander- 
ing faculty, but what if they should happen to be true 
— even the truest truths ever beheld by them, and most 
profoundly wanted by us all ? 

I will only add that the scriptures constantly assume. 



444 HEAVEN OPENED. 

and in many ways assert, the fact of a supernatural 
sense in souls, that is shut up and requires to be opened. 
Christ declares this truth again and again, as, for in- 
stance, when he says, "For this people's heart is waxed 
gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes 
have they closed, lest at any time they should see with 
their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand 
with their heart." He does not say this of the natural 
senses and judgments, but of the higher perceptions of 
the heart, or the religious and spiritual man. The same 
thing also is very deliberately and carefully put by the 
apostle, when he says — "But the natural man receiveth 
not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know 
them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he 
that is spiritual judgeth all things." There is, in other 
words, a natural man and a spiritual, a lower range of 
perception and a higher ; and by this latter only, set 
open to the light, can the spiritual and supernatural 
things of God be discerned and judged. And this is 
the supernatural sense of which I have been speaking, 
the upper range of faculty that belongs to religion, pre- 
pared for a seeing of the invisible. By this it was. that 
Christ expected to be in the soul's inward beholding, as 
when he said — " but ye see me." By this it was that a 
whole heaven of being and society is conceived to reveal 
itself to souls, when they are converted and set open to 
God — " But ye are come unto mount Zion, the city of 
the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an in- 
numerable company of angels, and to the general assem- 
bly and church of the first-born which are written in 



HEAVEN OPENED. 445 

heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits 
of just men made perfect." And so glorious and clear 
was their inward beholding, at times, that one disciple 
seemed to be caught up into some "third heaven" by 
it, though the heaven, as he well understood, was 
within. Another also declared, as in vision, "I see 
heaven opened," and though he "looked steadfastly 
up " at the time, it was only that altitude is the natural 
language, or line of direction, in such inward exaltations. 
So intensely perceptive, according to the scripture view, 
may a human soul become, when awakened inwardly, 
and drawn out in its higher apprehensions, after those in- 
visible, supernatural, associations for which it is created. 

Assuming now the fact of a supernatural sense in 
souls, that it is shut up by sin, we are next to consider — 

II. How Christ, as he declares to Nathanael, will 
open this suppressed faculty, and make it the organ, or 
inlet, of universal society. 

And here it will be remembered, that angelic visita- 
tions had been coursing back and forth upon the world 
and through it, in all ages, both before Christ's coming, 
and at his coming, and after. Moses had gone up into 
the mount and brought down tables lettered, as it were, 
in heaven. Fires had been kindled, from above, in sac- 
rifices offered on rocks, and altars of turf. Two holy 
men had been visibly translated. And yet heaven still 
appears to be somehow shut. The angels — not ascend- 
ing and descending but descending and ascending — are 
thought of only as having gone away, to some invisible 

38 



4A6 HEAVEN OPENED. 

nowhere whence they came. The great public miracles 
only help the chosen people to believe in a kind of Jew- 
Grod reigning nnder limitations, and holding their little 
patch of territory for his field. Instead of catching the 
hint from so many wonders, and so many bright visi- 
tants, of a world above the world, waiting to receive 
them in eternal society, it even makes them angry to 
hear, that God will include, in one circle of being, all 
that come to him on earth. A holy few found real ac- 
cess to the king, led in, to his seat, by the teachings of 
their prophets and the more secret teachings of the 
Spirit. But it is a most singular fact that no one of 
these, no dying saint most enlightened by holy experi- 
ence, speaks, in these former ages, of going to heaven, 
or even of there being a heavenly world where righteous 
souls are gathered ; unless it be that one or two expres- 
sions of the prophets are to be taken in that sense. 
Many critics therefore have denied, that there is any 
revelation of immortality, or a second life, before Christ's 
coming. And we know that, when he came, it was even 
an open question, whether any such being as "angel or 
spirit " really exists ? 

If now any one should ask what this means — how the 
world above seems to be already opened if it ever can 
be, and yet is shut ? — the answer is, that all this appari- 
tional machinery goes on without, before men's eyes, 
while the heaven of the soul is shut ; and that so many 
angels therefore, coming and going, are looked upon 
only as ghosts of the fancy, or at least mere outsiders 
and strangers. They do not stay to be citizens, they 



HEAVEN OPENED. 447 

are seen only as in transitu ; they flit across the stage 
and are gone — gone, as many will think, to the same 
blind nowhere that receives all phantasms. 

Here then is the deeper work Christ undertakes to 
do ; viz., to open the heaven of the soul itself, or, what 
is nowise different, to waken in it that higher sense, hy 
which it may discern the supernatural being and society 
of Grod's realm. How he does it we shall hardly be at 
a loss to find. 

First, he comes into the world himself, not appari- 
tionally, like an irruption of angels, but he comes up, so 
to speak, out of humanity, emerging into his visibly 
divine glory, through a glorious and perfect manhood. 
And so it comes to pass that, while they accomplish 
nothing by their character, and have, in fact, no char- 
acter beyond what is implied in their message, he is 
bringing on his wonderful, visibly divine manhood, and 
becoming, by force of his mere supernatural character 
alone, the greatest miracle of time — with the advantage 
that, being self-evident, even as the sun, all other mira- 
cle is upheld by it. At first he appears to be only a 
man among men, the Son of Mary, growing up in the 
mold and mortal weakness of a man ; but his life un- 
folds silently and imperceptibly, till the magnificent 
proportions of his Godhood begin to appear in his man- 
hood, and the tremendous fact is revealed, that a being 
from above the world is living in it! Supernatural 
event and character are built in solidly thus, into the 
world's history, to be an integral part of it. Mere nature 
is no longer all, and never can be again. The very world 



448 . HEAVEN OPENED. 

lias another world interfused and working jointly with 
it. 

He comes too in no light figure, but in the heavy 
tread of one that bears eternal government upon his 
shoulder — comes to reconcile the world, to justify, and 
gather, and pacify, and save, the world ; " For it pleased 
the Father that in him should all fullness dwell, and 
having made peace by the blood of his cross, by him to 
reconcile all unto himself, whether they be things in 
earth or things in heaven." Everlasting order hangs 
tremulous in expectation round his cross, and eternity 
rings out from it, tolling in the world. As the veil of 
the temple is rent, so the way into the holiest opens. 
As the dead are shaken out their graves when he dies, 
so the souls shut up in death are loosened from the 
senses, to behold the new-sprung day. The middle 
wall is now broken down, the dividing isthmus cut 
through, and things in heaven, and things in earth, are 
set in a common headship in his person. Heaven is 
become an open door which no man shutteth, an abund- 
ant and free entrance is ministered, that we may enter 
with boldness into the holiest. 

It is a great point also, as regards the impression 
effected, that every thing taught by him, in his doc- 
trine, holds the footing of immortality and eternity, 
looking towards a higher and relatively supernatural 
state. Nothing is allowed to stop short, within the 
boundaries of time, as in the old religion. The very 
law of Grod is carried forward into spiritual applications ; 
the temporal and outward sanctions are taken away, and 



HEAVEN OPENED. 449 

the inmost principle of duty under it is enforced by the 
tremendous allotments of a future, everlasting state. 
Outward sacrifices and remissions will not answer. 
There must be a sacrifice that purges even the con- 
science itself. There must be a righteousness found, 
that exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Phari- 
sees — even the righteousness of God. Every thing in 
the doctrine out-reaches nature and time, piercing even 
to the dividing asunder, and stirring all the inmost 
senses, sentiments, and fears of the religious nature. 
Not that any mere standards, or sanctions, can force 
open the shut heaven of souls ; but that, by these things, 
grinding hard upon the supernatural sense, it is made 
to feel a reverberative movement of the powers of the 
world to come, and look in, through the rifts that are 
opened in the stony casement that surrounds it. 

Let us not imagine now that, by any or all these 
things, the supernatural sense, or heaven of the soul, is 
really opened. These are preparations, all, including 
even the cross itself — powers that move on our consent, 
but without that consent accomplish no result. Nothing 
done will ever accomplish that result with many ; they 
will go to their graves denying that any such upper 
world of faculty is in them. But with some it will be 
otherwise; they will respond, they will believe, and 
their faith will be the opening of heaven. In that faith 
the Son of Man will be revealed, and the angels of God 
ascending and descending upon him. But this faith, in 
still another view, is love, and here we have the grand 
finality. Christ and his cross are a movement on the 

38* 



450 HEAVEN OPENED. 

world's love, and love itself is the Higher sense, or ap- 
prehending power of the sonl. Love is perceptive; 
whatever is loved is most really known, or discovered. 
He that loveth knoweth God, and, in that manner, he 
that loveth universal society knoweth universal so- 
ciety. Worlds above the world are present to the sense 
of love. All the immense longings of souls after uni- 
versal society are consummated and crowned, when 
they are issued in love. And this is the opening of the 
soul, this the state and character which are its heaven — 
the kingdom of cGrod within. 

And what a finding of the soul will it be ! what a 
sublime privity of knowledge will it reveal! when 
Christ, as in the promise made to Nathanael, shall have 
made it conscious eternally, in this manner, of the para- 
dise hid in its own higher faculty, so long shut up and 
suppressed. 

Some very important consequences follow, in the train 
of the subject thus presented, and with these I conclude. 

1. The real merit of the issue made up between Christ 
and the naturalizing critics of his gospels is here dis- 
tinctly shown. Professing much respect to his character, 
they are offended by the supernatural matters reported 
in his life, and set themselves at work to produce a new 
Christianity, without either miracle or mystery, or more 
than natural fact in it — and, of course, without even 
Christ himself, who is the greatest miracle of all. 
Christ, on the other hand, undertakes to give them, 
over and above the supernatural facts they reject, 



HEAVEN OPENED. 451 

supernatural evidences ; viz., to set open a higher range 
of faculty in them related to himself and all supernatu- 
ral beings, and so to find them at the point of deeper 
sentiments and apprehensions in their nature, than they 
are themselves aware of. They do not even imagine, 
that they have any thing included in their nature, above 
the mere basement story so much investigated and mag- 
nified by the philosophers ; viz., reason, memory, imag- 
ination, affectional capacities and the like, including, 
perhaps, a merely moral, in distinction from a religious, 
conscience ; practically ignoring, because they are shut, 
the sublime upper ranges of their spiritual nature — their 
transcendent affinities prepared for immense supernat- 
ural relations, their capacities to apprehend what is 
above the test of mere intellectual judgments, divine 
being, viz., and concourse and the flow and reflow of 
God's universal society. The heaven of their nature 
being shut, and the supernatural sense practically un- 
discovered, they proceed to bring the great questions of 
the gospels down for trial before the basement court of 
their criticism ; where it results, that having made their 
souls small enough for their doctrine, they have no 
great difficulty in making their doctrine small enough 
for their souls. 

They are men of high talent, if any talent is high 
in the lower ranges only of the nature, they are some 
of them scholars specially advanced in their culture, but 
talent and scholarship are, alas, how pitiably shriveled 
in their figure, when they undertake to handle the 
questions of religion, without so much as a conception 



452 HEAVEN OPENED. 

of the inherently supernatural relations and discerning 
powers of the religious mind. Why, the humble, guile- 
less ISTathanaels, who never had a speculation in their 
lives, but have the heaven of their faith set open, and 
have found the Son of Man deep set in the heart's own 
center, have a better competence in the supernatural 
than Hennel, or Parker, or Strauss, or Eenan, orthan 
all these brilliant gospel extirpators together. No, gen- 
tlemen, Christ did not come to be approved before the 
tribunal of your mere logic, or lore, or critical acumen, 
but before a nobler and more competent, which, though 
it be in you, is yet hidden from you. Having a nature 
boundlessly related to the supernatural, flowering never, 
save in the knowledge and concourse of supernatural 
society, you put your critical extinguishers on it and 
stifle it, and then you can even triumph in the discovery 
that all you most sublimely want is incredible — scien- 
tifically impossible ! Hardly could you make yourselves 
a more fit mark for Christian pity ; for, with all your 
fine stores of learning, you are in fact the least knowing 
men of your day. "Would that Christ might only find 
you, in that glorious opening of the nature of which he 
speaks ; what a revelation would it be — and, first of all, 
because it would be a revelation so wonderful of your- 
selves ! 

You assume that you can settle questions of being, or 
not being — supernatural being, or not being — by logic, 
and criticism, and the processes of the head, even as you 
do questions of thought, or idea. Can you then reason 
a rock, as being or not being, in that manner ? ISTo, 



HEAVEN OPENED. 453 

you will answer; subjects of being can not, in the first 
instance, be thought or reasoned, they can only be 
cognized, or perceived, by the senses. And so it is of 
all supernatural being, God, angels, worlds above the 
world, universal society ; they are known only as they 
are cognized, by the supernatural sensing of the spiritual 
man ; or, what is nowise different, by faith. And when 
it is done, they are had in as complete evidence even as 
the solids of matter. I do not undertake to say what 
particular facts of the gospel will, or will not be proved 
in this manner, but only that nothing will be rejected, 
because it is supernatural. The soul will be going after 
things supernatural and the commerce of the supernatu- 
ral society, because it is practically open to their con- 
course. Here then is Christ, on one side, contriving 
how to open this immense upper world of the soul, and 
you, on your side, protesting that there is not, and must 
not be, any such upper world in you. He would make 
the soul a sky -full of glorious and blessed concourse, 
and you set yourselves to it, as a problem worthy of 
your industry, to make it a cavern ! His work may be 
a hard one, but yours will be much harder. The 
emptiness of your cavern will ring back answers, 
stronger to most men, after all, than your arguments. 
For heaven is as much a necessity to men as bread, and 
souls can no more live without the supernatural, than 
the senses without matters of sense. In the same way — 
2. We have given back to us, here, the most solid, 
only sufficient, proof of our immortality. How often do 
we stagger at this point, even the best of us. All mere 



454 HEAVEN OPENED. 

rational arguments, here, fall quite short of the mark. 
They never established any body. And yet every man 
ought to know his immortality, even as he knows that 
he is alive. He is made, to have an immediate, self- 
asserting consciousness of immortality, and would never 
have a doubt of it, if he had not shut up and darkened 
the divine side of the soul. And for just the same 
reason, Christ, when he opens the soul, opens immor- 
tality also. What was so dimly revealed, under the old 
religion, stands out visible everywhere under the new. 
There is no room here for a Sadducee to live. The 
metropolis of the world is here in Christ's person, and 
the visitants of all unknown spheres crowd about him, 
ascending and descending upon him. And they are all 
certified to our faith, by his supernatural character. 
We grow familiar thus with spirit, realize it, and know it 
in ourselves. Immortality ! why the dead Christ proves 
it. And again the resurrection proves it ; for what could 
such a being do but rise ? It would even be a greater 
wonder if he did not. Away to their native abyss fly 
all our doubts — life and immortality are brought to 
light through the gospel ! It only remains — 

3. To note precisely, as we can at no other point of 
view, the meaning of salvation, or the saving of souls. 
Christ does not undertake to save them as they are — 
only half existing in the plane of nature. Do we call it 
saving the hand, that we save it in all but the fingers ? 
Is it saving an eye, that we save it in all but the sight ? 
Do we save a tree, when we save the stump and the 
roots, and not the leafy crown of shade and flower ? 



HEAVEN OPENED. 455 

No more is it saving a soul to save the economic under- 
work only of opinion, judgment, memory, and the like. 
These are not the soul, and if we take them to be, we 
only come as near saying, as possible, that the soul is 
gone already. And it is in just this condition that 
Christ finds us — 0, that he might also find us in the 
deeper sense of his promise ! He comes to the soul as 
having a whole heaven hid in its possibilities, which 
heaven is shut up, which possibilities are even ignored 
and hid. He finds it made little, a fire almost gone out 
Eelated constitutionally to a vast supernatural society, 
and to ranges of life and knowledge, as much broader 
than all causes and laws of the world, as eternity is 
broader than time, he undertakes to open it again upon 
its true field, relieve the pinch of its compression, give 
it enlargement, and make it truly live. Whatever man 
of opinion, taking on the airs of science, tells him that 
his gospel is incredible because it is supernatural, will 
get no answer, but that his soul is very nearly gone out 
already, and is wanting simply salvation. And just here 
it is that the soul gets such an immense lifting of pitch, 
and outspreading of dimensions, when it comes to 
Christ. The coming unto Christ is, in another view, 
Christ coming unto it and being revealed in it. Even 
as the apostle says — "When it pleased God to reveal 
his Son in me." And what a revelation was it to him ! 
— ^as great proportionally to all who receive it. It is as 
if they had gotten a new s.oul, with a heaven-full of 
society gathered round the Son of Man there revealed. 
Therefore it is called " the new man ;" not because it is 



456 HEAVEN OPENED. 

new, for it is older even than the old man put away, 
being the original, normal, man of Paradise, hitherto 
stifled and suppressed; still it is new, all things are 
new. The change is so great as to be sometimes even 
bewildering. It is as if some wondrous, unknown light 
had broken in ; the whole sky is luminous. The soul 
is in day ; for the day has dawned and the day-star is 
risen. God, eternity, immortality, universal love and 
society — into these broad ranges it has come, and in 
these it is free, having them all for its element and its 
conversation in them, as in heaven. The unknowing 
state, the old, blank ignorance that was, because of the 
blindness of the heart, is gone ; and a wondrous knowl- 
edge opens because the heart can see. Before it was a 
doubter possibly, mighty in opinion, wise in the wisdom 
of this world, pleased with its own questions and 
reasons, now it has come up where the light is, and the 
old questions and reasons do not mean any thing — the 
judgments of moles, in matters of astronomy, are as 
good. 0, what strength, and majesty, and general 
height of being, are felt in the new life begun ! And 
this is salvation ! great because it saves, not some small 
part of the soul, but because it saves and glorifies the 
sublime whole ; restoring its integrity and proportion, 
and setting it complete in God's own order, as in ever- 
lasting life. Who could wish it to do less ? who could 
ask it do more ? 





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